By Danny Harrison
Robbery may have been the motive in the June 7 shooting death of Fayetteville Applebee’s manager Greg Smith, police said this afternoon while also announcing the arrests of murder suspects Greg Haney, Jr., 24, of Jonesboro and Ledarrius Jawon Jackson, 25, of Hampton, who are believed to have killed Smith.
Fayetteville Police Lieutenant Mike Whitlow said in a press conference, which was attended by Smith’s family, that security camera footage shared through the media and seen by members of the public is what led to today’s arrests. He also said both suspects were in custody in other jurisdictions on unrelated charges when officers arrested them.
Smith’s family said they are relieved the suspects are off the streets and will be brought to trial. District Attorney Scott Ballard, who warned a few weeks ago that not turning themselves in would make matters worse for the suspects in the courtroom, said today his office intends to seek full justice in this case.
Ballard commended Fayetteville Police for their detective work in the case.
Smith, who had been working as a shift manager at Applebee’s on Saturday night, June 6, was found dead in his car in the restaurant parking lot at 6:30 the next morning by his fiance, who alerted police. Applebee’s in-store security footage showed that Smith left the building at 2:58 a.m.
For most of that Sunday, the Applebee’s parking lot was roped off as a crime scene, and police soon determined that Smith had been shot to death while sitting in his car in a space next to the building. At least two bullet casings were reportedly found on the ground nearby.
Whitlow said robbery may have been a motive in the encounter, but he said Smith was not carrying any Applebee’s money when he exited the building. He said the restaurant doesn’t do late-night deposits, so anything stolen from Smith would have been personal possessions.
And while police say the suspects did not know Smith, they indicated that the crime was not completely random, either. Whitlow said today that Haney is a former Fayetteville Applebee’s employee, who worked at a time prior to Smith’s employment there. Whitlow said it is possible Haney thought a manager might bring restaurant money out of the building after closing time.
Haney and Jackson will stand trial in Fayette County, but they won’t be detained here in the meantime for security purposes, Whitlow said.