MONCURE — Dozens of shots were fired during a party at a Moncure home earlier this month, injuring one man and confirming claims from some residents who live in the vicinity about alleged criminal …
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MONCURE — Dozens of shots were fired during a party at a Moncure home earlier this month, injuring one man and confirming claims from some residents who live in the vicinity about alleged criminal activities there.
Anthony Davis, 27, of Sanford was shot in the early morning hours of May 9 at 3800 Old U.S. 1 Hwy. The property is well known for raucous parties, which have been especially concerning through the pandemic’s worst months, Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson told the News + Record. When asked if the property had some notoriety for other illicit activity, Roberson confirmed it has that reputation, but emphasized that his office has not received calls for anything but noise complaints — until the report of the shooting.
Davis has since been released from the hospital after sustaining a non-fatal gunshot wound to his foot. Police questioned Davis regarding the shooting incident, but said he was not forthcoming with any details.
“He says he doesn’t know what happened,” Roberson said. “We went to the scene and collected some evidence, but to say that we’re getting cooperation would not be true.”
The house where Davis was shot is known as “Club 51,” essentially an unlicensed nightclub. According to several neighboring property owners and Facebook posts from attendees, Club 51 is the site of frequent late-night parties.
The property is owned by Shirlene Thomas, according to Chatham County tax records, who neighbors say is the mother of the alleged host of the parties, James “JT” Thomas.
The News + Record made multiple attempts to contact James Thomas about the shooting and allegations of other crimes on his mother’s property. Multiple calls to a telephone registered in the name of a James Thomas in Moncure were not answered and voicemail messages left over the course of the last week were not returned.
On the night Davis was shot, neighbors who spoke to the News + Record said they heard 50 shots or more. And it wasn’t the first time they’ve heard gunfire or witnessed activities they say are troubling. Members of multiple families in the area spoke — on the condition of anonymity — about Club 51 and what they’ve witnessed, on nearly a weekly basis, for the past two years. Each cited fear of physical retribution from Club 51 “regulars” if their names were made public.
“Everybody’s terrified — they don’t come out and they don’t want to fight for the community because they’re so afraid,” one resident said of others who live in the area. “And if they find out I’ve talked, I could be in grave danger because it doesn’t bother them one bit, they would harm us. That’s why I said I never want to give my name; you can never give my name.”
Other neighbors expressed similar dread.
“It is a dire situation down here and has been for a long time,” one said. “We are pleading for help, for someone to help us. We don’t get to sleep at night, we’re up all night from the partying, and there are issues with drugs there and prostitution, just all kinds of things. We hear the gunshots and can’t sleep. We have to get a motel room sometimes just to get some peace and rest.”
Independently, at least three neighbors told the News + Record they’ve witnessed prostitution and drug use during the parties.
“The prostitution we know for a fact is going on, we’ve seen that,” one said. “And you can hear the ladies screaming, we can hear them through our window, saying they don’t want to go in those trailers.”
Neighbors claim Club 51 regulars have suggested they might burn down Truth Missionary Baptist Church, across the road from Thomas’ house, if church representatives reach out to police. (Church representatives did not respond to multiple News + Record requests for comment).
“The property that they park on is church property, but the church is too afraid to say anything, afraid they’ll burn the church down,” one neighbor said. “(The church) did put up no parking signs when it got so bad here a month or two ago, but they just tore them down, tore them all out.”
“The church doesn’t want to do anything because they’re afraid they’re gonna burn the place down,” said another neighbor. “They like to park at the church’s property during the parties, and the church won’t do anything about it because they’re afraid, again, of getting the place burned.”
In addition, residents living in the vicinity say party-goers have bragged to neighbors about “paying off” police officers to overlook criminal activity
One neighbor told the News + Record he smelled marijuana from his front porch, about a quarter mile from the location of the party.
“And I called the cops out there, and the party still continued on through the night,” the neighbor said. “So, it was obvious that they had drugs out there, and the cops just didn’t do anything.”
Each of the local residents who spoke claim they have made the same reports to law enforcement. But Chatham County Sheriff’s Office representatives say that isn’t the case.
“To date, no one has contacted us to report any crime or suspicious activity at that location other than noise complaints,” Lt. Sara Pack said in an email.
As for suggestions of police corruption, Pack says the Sheriff’s Office is looking into it.
“Those are definitely some jarring allegations, and we take all allegations of wrongdoing seriously,” she said. In a separate email she added: “Any time a tip is received, we investigate it fully. Again, we take the allegations being made by your anonymous sources very seriously and encourage them to come forward if they have information to share that might aid in an investigation.”
Police are still investigating Davis’ shooting and ask that anyone with information call 919-542-2911.
“No one should live in fear,” Roberson said. “We want to partner with individuals and the community to make Chatham County a safe and enjoyable place to live and work. We encourage anyone who sees suspicious or criminal behavior to report it immediately by calling 911 or reaching out to us directly to file a report.”
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dldolder.