Armed 'mob' allegedly tried to enter black family's North Carolina home; white deputy charged

Kalhan Rosenblatt and Associated Press

A sheriff's deputy in North Carolina is facing criminal charges after authorities said he led a group of armed people to the wrong home in a search for a missing girl.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said Friday that Jordan Kita, who worked for the New Hanover Sheriff's Office, led an armed group to the home of Dameon Shepard, a senior at Laney High School in Wilmington, on May 3, according to James W. Lea, a lawyer for Shepard's family who is preparing a civil lawsuit.

Shepard, who is black, says the all-white group tried unsuccessfully to force its way into the family's Pender County home about 20 miles north of Wilmington.

His mother, Monica Shepard, told the group that they should leave, Lea said.

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"Coming to the door like that with a mob of people with guns, what do we expect? What were their intentions?" Monica Shepard told NBC affiliate WECT of Wilmington. "What if he was the person they were looking for or what if I was not home? What would've happened? I don't want to have that conversation. I don't want him to be a statistic. It's scary."

Kita was looking for Lekayda Kempisty, a 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing earlier in the day. She was later found safe.

In its effort to find Lekayda, Kita's group was searching for someone named Josiah who used to live next door.

During the confrontation, Shepard repeatedly tried to point out to the group that they had the wrong house and that a yard sign out front explicitly congratulated "Dameon" on his high school graduation, to no avail, Shepard told news outlets.

There was believed to be some sort of familial relationship between Kita and the Lekayda Kempisty, said David, the district attorney.

Kita will be charged with trespassing and breaking and entering, in addition to willful failure to discharge duties, which alleges a failure to uphold his duties as a sworn officer of the sheriff's office.

Authorities said Kita has been fired. It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment.

A second man in Kita's group also faces a criminal charge of "going armed to the terror of the public."

NBC News has reached out to New Hanover County and the Pender County Sheriff's Office for more information.