Last week, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference in regards to the first local murder within the county of the new calendar year. Sheriff Terry Johnson and District Attorney Sean Boone spoke with the press about the crime that took place in which William Gene Williams III, a Burlington resident, was allegedly murdered in a gun sale gone bad.
“The crimes are leaving our citizens dead, and our families mourning for the loss of their family members,” Sheriff Johnson stated in his opening comments. “Many of the perpetrators are found to be from outside (Alamance County), in surrounding counties. Many of these individuals have extensive criminal records, and should not be walking our streets. In my professional opinion, our criminal justice system failed to protect our citizens prior to the arrest being made in this case.”
“(The victim was) 25 years old, and he’s deceased,” Johnson added.
In the early morning hours of January 4, three individuals went to the residence of Mr. William Gene Williams, III at 2233 Durham Street Extension in Burlington. There were three residences side-by-side, all connected. The three individuals went to that location after going through social media and seeing that Mr. Williams had listed various firearms for sale.
“Contact was made, and three individuals from High Point came to supposedly purchase some of these weapons,” Sheriff Johnson said. “Firearms were advertised on social media. One of the three individuals, while at the residence, asked to see one of the firearms, which was a loaded Glock .9 mm. When that firearm was presented to the individuals, the shooter - one of the suspects later identified as Jermaine Isaac Jermaine Weathersby IV, 19 years old - took the .9 mm pistol, rapped it back and forth looking at it, and turned around and shot our victim numerous times. And then shot at other possible witnesses at the house. Luckily, none was hurt.”
“They went there to get the guns,” Johnson continued. “Certainly the victim and the others did not know each other. We’re trying to find out right now if someone in the area knew these individuals. We have no evidence of that at this time. We’re running everything through the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) of every weapon that was there that we took.”
The witnesses identified three African-American male suspects, driving a dark blue or black Nissan Altima. That information was submitted to the Alamance Communications Center, who immediately put that information out to the other law enforcement agencies throughout Alamance County and surrounding areas.
“Luckily, the suspect’s vehicle was spotted on University Drive in Elon by the Elon Police Department,” Johnson explained. “They followed the vehicle, along with an officer from the Gibsonville Police Department, maintaining contact with Central Communications, giving them their location, and where they were proceeding. That information was also put out by our cars to the Greensboro and Guilford County law enforcement agencies. The two (police) cars - one from Elon, one from Gibsonville - followed the suspect’s vehicle until crossing into Guilford County, where the pursuit was taken over by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.”
A high-speed chase and pursuit continued on into Greensboro, and eventually to Vandalia Road in Guilford County, where Greensboro Police also got involved in the chase. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office employed spike strips, and the Nissan Altima was disabled. The three suspects jumped out of the vehicle and tried to flee on foot, but were apprehended shortly thereafter.
“I would like to thank all the agencies involved for their assistance in this terrible crime. I ask the public to keep the Williams family in their thoughts and prayers. We are looking for vigorous prosecution. I think that will come - no question in my mind,” Johnson said.
Arrested was Isaac Jermaine Weathersby IV, the suspected gunman, who was charged with felony first degree murder, felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, and felony larceny of a firearm. He has numerous charges and convictions in Davidson and Guilford County for a wide range of alleged crimes. Sheriff Johnson indicated that a firearm was found underneath the deck at the residence of one of suspects, and ballistics tests are being conducted to see what, if any, crimes may have been committed with that weapon.
“He (Weathersby) was the shooter. This man has an extensive criminal record. And on this occasion, when arrested, had a fresh gunshot wound - not coming from this particular case - but was bandaged up,” Johnson said. “We don’t know where that came from, but you can bet there was another violent act somewhere for this man to be shot. I would classify him as a habitual felon. He’s not a new person to the criminal justice system - I can tell you that.”
“Looking at Mr. Weathersby’s criminal record, he was given break after break after break,” Sheriff Johnson added. “I’ve never seen that done in Alamance County - I’ll just be honest with you. When you have an individual that keeps getting breaks, they get braver and braver, and enhance the crimes that they commit. Right now, if he had been dealt with the way I feel like, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot our victim in this case. He would have been in prison.”
“Mr. Weathersby has been convicted of felonious larceny from the person, has been convicted of felonious breaking and entering, has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, and other felony charges,” explained District Attorney Sean Boone. “In each of those cases, those were separate incidents. So depending on the timing of these offenses, it is possible that he is a habitual felon. If he is a habitual felon, and the evidence will allow us to pursue that, then we will pursue that.”
Another High Point resident, the suspected driver of the vehicle, is 19-year-old Carlos Demetrius Robert Rogers. He has been charged with felony conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, along with accessory after the fact of first degree murder. The third individual in the car is a 17-year-old juvenile - name withheld - also from High Point. He has been charged on a juvenile petition of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.
“All of these individuals are from the “Nine Trey” Gang out of High Point, and has been looked at extensively, according to our information, by the High Point Police Department,” the Sheriff explained. “What is so upsetting to me is these individuals are coming into Alamance County and preying upon our citizens. We are looking at further investigation maybe, and possibly other charges. The two 19-year-olds that were charged are validated gang members. I have been told by High Point that if it comes to trial and they need to get on the stand and talk about the validation, they will certainly be able to do that. They were watching these individuals, but they just snuck over here and did what they did.”
According to District Attorney Boone, in 2020, Alamance County had 11 first degree murder cases charged, with at least one still under investigation. The most recent homicide - the first of 2021 - sets the total number of pending first degree murder cases in Alamance County at 31. Including second degree and other homicide charges, the total number is 41 pending cases.
“Like everything else currently, these numbers have been impacted by the pandemic,” Boone explained. “COVID-related court shutdowns and restrictions resulted in 28 weeks of lost jury trial sessions in 2020 alone. With the current shutdown, the total has risen to 30 weeks. Despite these obstacles, both law enforcement and prosecutors have nevertheless been working outside of court to prepare these cases for trial. And when we inevitably take them to trial, we intend to schedule them as soon and as quickly as we are able.”
“But even our best efforts on behalf of crime victims offers little solace to citizens whose lives may not have yet been touched by violent crime, but who live in a perpetual state of unrest because of criminal activity in their neighborhood. Criminal activity that has not been reported, and is unknown to law enforcement.”
“Let me say this - a lot of crimes that are occurring here in this county right now are coming from outside of Alamance County,” added Sheriff Johnson. “We hope they’ll stop coming. But if they don’t, we’re going to do everything we possibly can within the law to pursue these individuals, to work with all the surrounding counties to see that these individuals are apprehended while doing their criminal activity. We are going to put together a Task Force to go after these types of individuals.”
The Sheriff implored the public to stay vigilant and to inform law enforcement if they have any information regarding potential gang activity in the area.
“We need all the help we can get,” Johnson said. “Any tips - I don’t care if they are anonymous - we need information. If we’ve got other gang members coming into town that a neighbor of someone that the gang member is visiting may see these individuals, please notify us. Because there are connections. We’re seeing a lot of connections to gangs here in Alamance County coming in from outside the area. We know we have some gang members here in Alamance County. A lot of firearms and a lot of drugs are being handled by these gang members.”