On September 9, 2019, at approximately 10:03pm Columbus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Deputies, Nakina Fire and Rescue (NFR), and North Carolina Highway Patrol (NCSHP) were dispatched to the 14000 block of Swamp Fox Highway East, Nakina, in reference to a motor vehicle collision. Upon arrival of emergency services, it was determined the male victim had succumbed to a gunshot wound. After a preliminary investigation, CCSO Deputies identified the deceased male as Mitchell Allen Smith, 34, of Whiteville. CCSO Investigators arrived shortly after to interview witnesses and to conduct an extensive crime scene investigation.
After an investigation was conducted by the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, Lakeithy Gene Keller, 44, of Tabor City, was identified as a suspect. On September 12, 2019, Keller was arrested and held under no bond after being booked into the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.
Sheriff Greene wants to remind the public that it is important to pay attention to what is going on around you and to call 911 if you see anything suspicious. The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division is requesting anyone with information in this case to please contact Detective Sergeant M. Strickland at 910-640-6629. This investigation is ongoing.