Crime

Man arrested for one shooting now charged with attempted first-degree murder

Night Train Lounge raided by police last month

GREENVILLE, Pitt County - A man already facing charges for his role in a shooting in Plymouth is now being charged with attempted first degree murder in a separate case.

Vincent Smith, 30, of Plymouth, was scheduled to make his first appearance in Pitt County Superior Court on Friday after being arrested Thursday on charges of attempted first-degree murder, felony possession of a firearm by a felon and felony possession of a stolen firearm.

Those charges are tied to a shooting at the Night Train Lounge, which happened in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 24. According to Pitt County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Kip Gaskins, Smith is accused of playing a role in the shooting that sent four people to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville with non-life threatening injuries. Gaskins said all four individuals have since been treated and released.

Smith was booked on a $750,000 secured bond.

Smith was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury stemming from his role in a shooting outside the Deluxe Night Club in Plymouth on Christmas Eve last year. Smith himself was one of four people shot in that incident. His next court appearance in that case is set for July 24 in Washington County Superior Court.

Smith was also arrested in 2014 as the prime suspect in a non-fatal shooting near Plymouth on Nov. 2, 2014. Charges, however, were eventually dropped in that case.

 

Night Train troubles

A records request by NewsChannel 12 reveals the Night Train Lounge was operating as a "BYOB" club on June 24 when the four-person shooting took place.

The reason? The club's liquor license had been revoked after an undercover investigation in May by the Pitt County Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission's Law Enforcement Division found a litany of violations. As a result of the investigation, Night Train Lounge owner Willie Ray Acklin faced both civil and criminal charges, including selling alcoholic beverages without an applicable ABC permit, having controlled substances on licensed premises (the "smoke from the marijuana floated through the building like clouds" according to the investigators' report), and selling alcohol beyond state-mandated last call, among other charges.

A bouncer at the club, Timothy White Jr., was charged with carrying a weapon into an establishment where alocholic beverages are sold.

Acklin and White were both arrested this week, charged with destroyed evidence related to the June 24 shooting. They were booked into the Pitt County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.

It's not the first time Acklin has played a role in trying to impede a law enforcement investigation.

In April 2017, 39-year-old Damien Lovett was shot in the thigh at the Night Train Lounge in an incident that was not reported to authorities by Acklin or club management.

That shooting was tied back to a larger scale of events that eventually led to the murder of 30-year-old Ayden man Omar Langley.

According to a June 7 ABC Law Enforcement Division investigator's report, the Pitt County Sheriff's Office had opposed the initial liquor license granted to Night Train in 2015 and had continued to voice concerns to ABC Law Enforcement over ongoing calls for service for fights, drugs, shootings and more from patrons at the club.

ABC Law Enforcement Division had tried numerous times before this May to send in a confidential informant to get a better handle of the situation of the club, but "they would always back out for fear of what would happen to them. We always heard the same thing from them: 'the place is full of gang members and if you weren't recognized, you were beaten.'"

Starting after the April 9 shooting at Night Train that would eventually lead to the retaliatory shooting and killing of Langley, the Pitt County District Attorney's Office, Kinston Police and the Pitt County Sheriff's Office met to scope out a plan for the takedown of those conducting criminal activity at the Night Train Lounge.

After nearly a month of planning and more than 40 officers geared up to make arrests, confidential informants were sent in on the night of May 7. The CIs told investigators of being able to buy drinks after last call, being offered cocaine that was being cut up on a pool table where Acklin was present as well as seeing numerous people pack into a club that was legally allowed to hold less than 100 people.

When police officers entered the club shortly before 3 a.m. on May 8, between 250-300 people were in the Night Train Lounge and "there was so much marijuana smoke inside the club that it appeared to be full of fog."

In addition to the charges on May 8 for Acklin and White, Acklin's employees - his son, Percy, and Lavonda Powell - were also issued several civil and criminal citations.


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