Police in North Carolina still mum on Marine's shooting death last month
By F.T. NORTON | Star-News, Wilmington, N.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 14, 2017
WILMINGTON — Twenty-three days after an active-duty Marine corporal was shot to death in downtown Wilmington, few details in the slaying have been released by the Wilmington Police Department.
Edwin Mauricio Estrada, 27, originally from North Hollywood, Calif., died Nov. 19 behind the businesses in the 200 block of North Front Street.
Estrada was a CH-53 helicopter mechanic assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 based in Jacksonville. He joined the Marine Corps in July 2014.
“We have no further update on the shooting death of Cpl. Estrada at this time. We are continuing to investigate this case and the circumstances surrounding his death, thoroughly,” police spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron wrote in an email Tuesday morning.
A statement of probable cause for the search warrant at 273 N. Front St., reveals that 36-year-old Stephen Roger Hughes II, called 911 to report that he "shot and killed an intruder at his residence.” Hughes apparently lives in an apartment behind businesses there. Access to the apartment, the warrant indicates, is via a door that faces Water Street on the back of the building.
Police found Estrada lying dead "in a pool of blood with an apparent gunshot wound to the head just outside Hughes’ apartment door," the affidavit states.
The city’s gunfire detection system, ShotSpotter, registered two gunshots at 6:07 a.m., according to the document.
“I just, um, used lethal force on an intruder on my business. I need emergency personnel here, an ambulance and some police officers,” Hughes said in the 6:13 a.m. call to 911.
“OK, is somebody hurt,” the dispatcher asked.
“Yeah, someone’s dead,” he said.
“Are they for sure dead? They’re not breathing or responding at all,” the dispatcher asked.
“Yes, they’re not responsive. I’ve taken their vitals. I’ve tried to do emergency first aid,” Hughes said.
When asked what happened, he started to explain.
“He was beating on my door and I thought that it was a like this palm tree branch and I went to open the door…” Hughes said, before he spotted an approaching police car and began to talk about that.
Hughes did not wish to talk about the shooting when contacted by phone Monday.
“I don’t have any comment regarding that incident,” he said.
The search warrant indicates police took from Hughes’ apartment two .9-mm shell casings, an inoperable Motorola phone, a Sig Sauer P226 .9-mm pistol, three 15-round magazines with ammunition and one “extended round" 9-mm magazine with ammunition.
The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing said in a Nov. 21 news release that the Marine Corps and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service were also conducting an investigation into the incident.
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