Police arrest suspect in killing of Chinese restaurant owner in Durham

Arrest made in murder of Durham restaurant owner Hong Zheng

Durham Police announced that Maurice Owen Wiley was arrested on murder and related charges for the killing of Hong Zheng during a press conference held Friday, April 27, 2018. . Zheng was killed on April 15.
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Durham Police announced that Maurice Owen Wiley was arrested on murder and related charges for the killing of Hong Zheng during a press conference held Friday, April 27, 2018. . Zheng was killed on April 15.

The Durham Police Department arrested a 28-year-old man Friday in the fatal shooting of Durham restaurant owner Hong Zheng.

Police charged Maurice Owen Wiley Jr. in the 600 block of East Ellerbee Street on Friday morning.

He is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted first-degree-burglary, and six counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle/residence.

In addition, Wiley was charged with five offenses from a domestic-violence case in Durham last year and assault by strangulation in connection with a domestic-violence case in Wake County.

He was also charged with two drug offenses after police say they found drugs in his possession when he was arrested.

In 2008, Wiley was sentenced to 5 years and 11 month in prison for robbery with a dangerous weapon and other charges. After his release in 2013, he served 11 months on parole, according to state records.

Wiley is being held without bail at the Durham County jail.

Since the killing, "homicide investigators have worked tirelessly,” on this case, said Deputy Chief Anthony Marsh Sr. said at a press conference.

"We are very, very grateful for the outstanding work done by our homicide investigators and other departmental staff and for the assistance from the community which helped us in making this arrest," Marsh said.

Marsh said the investigation is ongoing and took no questions.

"We believe that there are people in the community who may have additional information in this case, and we want to hear from

them," he said.

Virginia's Zheng photo upload fitted cw_fitted.jpeg
Hong Zheng, 42, died April 15, 2018, in his Hope Valley Farms North driveway just before 11:15 p.m. Zheng owned the China Wok restaurant on South Roxboro Road in Durham near the Kroger and off Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. Courtesy of Hong Zheng's family.

Attempted robbery

Zheng, 42, of Durham was killed in his driveway in what the family described as an attempted robbery just after 10 p.m. April 15.

Zheng and his wife, Shirley Chan, had just returned from work to their Hope Valley Farms North home.

Their two children, Jade, 14, and Eastern Zheng, 16, were watching from the house for their parents' return, a routine the family had established after four previous robberies or break-ins, a family friend said.

Chan got out of the car first, as her husband pulled the car farther up the driveway. Eastern said he saw two cars, parked and turned off, with nine or more people. When Chan got out of the car, Jade saw three or four people start approaching her mother.

Eastern grabbed a gun and a magazine of ammunition from inside the house, went outside and gave them to his mother.

“They shot at my mom at least three times,” Jade said in an interview last week. “My mom tried to assemble the gun.”

The gun jammed, and the attackers were running up to the house, Chan said. She was trying to protect her son and wasn’t thinking about her husband who was still parking the car.

“They ran away, so my mom ran back and forth trying to get my brother safe,” Jade said. “And she called my Dad, and he didn’t respond back.”

Chan went to the car and saw a bullet hole in the window; her husband lay in his seat unresponsive.

He had been shot twice in the face and once his neck, Jade said.

Shirley Chan and Jade Zheng ask the people who have broken into their home and shot their father and husband why they keep coming back, and why they "broke" their family.

5th incident at home

His family said the April 15 fatal shooting was the fifth time individuals had broken into or attempted to break into their home since November 2015.

The family said they felt like they were being targeted by the same people because they own a Chinese restaurant, China Wok, and were frustrated by the Durham Police Department's response.

Police Department spokesman Wil Glenn outlined the agency's response to previous incidents in an email last week.

"Each case was assigned to a multi-agency task force created to focus on robberies and burglaries targeting Asian victims," Glenn wrote. "The multi-agency task force filed charges against six people in several cases in Durham and other jurisdictions. "

One of those individuals, David Jamal Lawson, was arrested in February 2017 charged with multiple felonies, including breaking and entering, in Durham County. He also faced charges in Wake County.

Three of the charges are related to the Nov. 25, 2015, breaking and entering at Zheng's home — the first of the incidents at the house.

Other incidents took place on Jan. 13, 2016; June 4, 2016; and in July 2017.

"Officers were unable to identify suspects, mainly due to a lack of evidence," Glenn wrote.

Initially Lawson remained in jail on a $400,000 bail. His bail was reduced to $100,000 on June 6, 2017, and he got out the next day, according to court documents.

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Crime-prevention meetings

Glenn said between January and October 2016, Durham police community resource officers contacted Asian businesses with recommendations for crime prevention and held multiple community safety meetings and security assessments.

“Patrol officers conducted directed-patrols at Asian restaurants and in the neighborhoods where the owners lived,” Glenn said. “Victim Services officers also met with victims to offer services”

The house underwent its own security assessment by police June 13, 2016, with follow-up recommendations to Chan, Glenn wrote.

From April to November 2017, Community Resource Officers offered resources to robbery victims and also met with owners of Asian businesses. Officers continued to conduct crime-prevention assessments and directed patrols, and shared robbery prevention tips in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Mandarin, Glenn said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the fatal shooting to call 919-560-4440, ext. 29284, or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.

A memorial fund has also been set up for the family here:

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

Hong Zheng was fatally shot while in his driveway of his home in Hope Valley North neighborhood on Sunday, April 15, 2018. Virginia Bridges

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