Migrant worker killed in Bladen County - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Migrant worker killed in Bladen County

Leonardo Zongua was shot and killed Friday night during a home invasion. (Source: WECT) Leonardo Zongua was shot and killed Friday night during a home invasion. (Source: WECT)

A migrant worker who traveled to southeastern NC this week to pick blueberries was killed after a home invasion in Bladen County on Friday night.  

Leonardo Zongua, 33, was shot twice when he got into a struggle with men who were trying to rob Zongua and five other people renting a mobile home at 53 Oakview Trail in Elizabethtown, according to the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. Zongua was transported to Bladen County Hospital where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room.

According to Bladen County Sheriff James A. McVicker, at around 9:30 p.m. Friday, Zongua and his fellow workers were in their yard and were approached by a group of men asking if they wanted to purchase marijuana. After the workers declined, the men pulled guns, forced the six workers to the ground and robbed them.

Two of the victims were forced to enter the home while the suspects searched it. When one of the victims resisted being searched, a struggle followed. After another victim joined the fight, Zongua was shot with a rifle at least two times.

“Right now we know we have six victims, five males and one female, who were held at gunpoint and robbed by several black males described as being in their late teens to early 20s,” McVicker said in a statement early Saturday morning. “These workers had just arrived in the county this week to begin harvesting blueberries. They were here for the season and probably would have moved on up the coast following the harvest in a few weeks."

Elizabeth Escalante lives next door to the trailer where the murder took place. She said she was shocked by the incident. 

“I mean there was cop cars everywhere, and I didn’t know what had happened," said Escalante.

Escalante said she's lived by migrant workers before and doesn't know why someone would prey on them. 

"Most of them come here to work for their families, take care of them, and their hard workers," she said. "You know, nobody deserves that.”

Anyone with information on this case should call the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at 910-862-6960.

Friday's incident was the second shooting death in Bladen County this week. On Wednesday night, Lonnie Level Smith, 38, was shot and killed following a fight at Oakdale Homes in Clarkton. 

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