Teen accused in first-degree murder turns himself in

The alleged gunman in a Sept. 12 murder at Hillcrest Apartments turned himself in on Sept. 29 after a brief manhunt.

According to an announcement from the Asheville Police Department, "Marcus Austin Thorpe turned himself in to Asheville police detectives at the Buncombe County Magistrate's Office. He is being held at the Detention Center under a $100,000 bond for the charge of Attempted First-Degree Murder and under No Bond for the charge of First-Degree Murder."

Detectives had issued warrants for Thorpe's arrest the previous day. The APD charged Thorpe, 17, with first-degree murder in the Sept. 12 shooting in Hillcrest Apartments that left one man dead and one woman injured. Although the police had put out a call for information about his whereabouts, they warned the public against approaching him, noting that he was considered armed and dangerous.

Thorpe, a West Asheville resident, was charged with first-degree murder for the killing of Louis Andrew Fleming and attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Fleming's passenger, Diane Bowditch Logan, who was shot in the face but survived. According to police, the shooting stemmed from an argument over drugs.

Around 4 a.m. on Sept. 12, APD officers found Fleming "slumped over in the driver's seat of a van that had struck the front porch of building 31." He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Fleming's murder is the second in Asheville this year, after an Aug. 16 stabbing in Montford that marked the end of an over-seven-month stretch without any homicides.

Hillcrest has cameras and a security guard, and is in the process of putting a security gate back up and rebuilding a guardhouse that burned down last year, noted Gene Bell, director of the city of Asheville's Housing Authority. Hillcrest has a "one-strike" rule for drugs inside an apartment and also hires off-duty police officers to augment its security during the drug trade's peak hours.

Despite those efforts, Bell told Xpress that the hard-drug trade — and the violence associated with it — "are a problem throughout the city and throughout the country" and that "while we have plans to deter [the drug trade], for some of these kind of incidents there is no deterrent. We plan to continue to secure the area. We're cooperating with the Asheville police, we're cooperating with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office. But it's bigger than us. This is a big, big issue. We're doing everything we can do."

"We're trying to recover from this tragedy," Bell continued. "The violence that comes along with this, the chance that a bullet will hit an innocent bystander, that's a major concern with the safety of our residents. It's extremely frustrating."


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