Bullet-riddled car crashes, driver found dead

Investigators working to determine cause of death

Bullet-riddled car crashes, driver found dead

JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - A car, riddled with bullet holes, crashed in Jacksonville Wednesday night, and deputies are working to determine what killed the driver.

According to investigators, 20-year-old Watson Earl Chentlen was found dead after his car crashed on Highway 53 and Blue Creek Road near Jacksonville, at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators said Chentlen's car veered off the road to the left, hit a brick column, then crashed into two trees. But according to deputies, Chentlen was also shot, and six bullet holes were found on the driver's door and front left fender. Authorities are looking into whether the crash or the shooting killed the victim.

According to Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown, the gunshots came from Chentlen's mobile home, at Gainey's Mobile Home Park, less than a mile from the crash site.

A neighbor, who helped pull Chentlen out of his car, said she saw a bullet hole in the victim's chest when she began CPR. According to deputies, Chentlen died at the scene.

"It's always a tragedy, regardless of how old a person is, who's been murdered or shot and died," said Sheriff Brown.  "But when they're 20 years of age, just getting started in life, it bothers you also."

Deputies found a .40 caliber semi-automatic gun in Chentlen's car. But it's unknown whether the weapon was used, Sheriff Brown said. The bullet holes in Chentlen's car came from a larger-caliber gun.

Deputies also found drugs while processing the scenes, Sheriff Brown said.

No arrests have been made in the incident.

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