Wanted for Murder: 6-foot-7-inch Hoops Player

By Virginia Breen

Jul 1, 2009 5:58pm

    ABC News On Campus reporter Nadine Maeser blogs:   North Carolina police are continuing their search for a 6-foot-7-inch former professional basketball player charged in the drive-by shooting deaths of a college student and a pizzeria manager.   Greenville Police have issued arrest warrants for James Earl Richardson, 32, on two counts of murder in the deaths of 21-year-old Landon Blackley, a student at East Carolina University, and Andrew Kirby, a manager at Michaelangelos’s, a popular pizzeria in Greenville. Police called both victims innocent bystanders.   “It’s time to man up,” Greenville Police spokesman Kip Gaskins said in a message to Richardson during an interview with ABC News On Campus. “You know what you done. You can’t turn back the clock. What kind of life will you have?”   According to police, Richardson left The Other Place, a Greenville bar, after getting into a dispute early Tuesday morning. He allegedly returned around 2 a.m. with a weapon and began firing, and police say he then fled the scene in a BMW.  Police found Richardson’s white BMW parked on a street near the downtown area around noon on Tuesday.  Police are investigating reports that he was accompanied by another man.   “We know he’s the shooter,” Gaskins said.   According to Gaskins, Richardson is well known locally and has roots in the community. While attending J.H. Rose High School in Greenville during the mid-90′s, Richardson played for the basketball team. He continued his education at Lenoir Community College before transferring to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where he also excelled on the court. He played overseas for Bulgaria, Norway, France and in the U.S. for the Continental Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association. He most recently played for the Albany Patroons in New York from 2005-2006. As of Wednesday afternoon, Richardson remained at large. Police consider him armed and dangerous. “He can’t keep being lucky,” Gaskins said. “We only have to be lucky once. He’s going to get caught. He needs to turn himself in. He knows what he’s facing. It’s up to the district attorney’s office, of course, but we got the death penalty in North Carolina.” Greenville, also referred to as “G-Vegas” because of its downtown party scene, has seen its fair share of fights and crimes.  On June 6, a shooting killed 28-year-old William Joseph Powell III outside the Greenville Stop One.  On June 14, a woman near Woodland apartments was hit by a stray bullet after a neighbor’s dispute. A drive-by on Nov. 4, 2001, resulted in two men being treated for gunshot wounds after a man in a black vehicle fired on them in the downtown area.  As Greenville police continue their investigation, ECU students and Greenville residents remain shaken and in shock. “I go out with my friends and I never think twice about being in harm’s way,” said Melissa Myers, who graduated from ECU in May and works in a Greenville bar. “I was going to go out Monday but decided to take it easy. I can’t believe how quickly a life can end and how that could have been me or anyone else.” ECU senior Gray Goins agrees. “It’s a reality check,” Goins said.  “You really have to be aware of your surroundings.  I didn’t know Landon personally but it’s a tragedy when anyone’s life is taken.  It is sad for the entire Pirate community.” A local obituary for Kirby says his funeral will be held Thursday. A graveside service will follow Friday morning. A funeral for Blackley, a rising senior majoring in industrial distribution and logistics and business administration, was planned for Friday. According to ECU spokesman, John Durham, the university is offering counseling for friends and family of the victims on campus. 

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus