Lone survivor in triple murder case: ‘I had to play dead if I didn’t want to be dead’

Lone survivor in triple murder case: ‘I had to play dead if I didn’t want to be dead’

CLARKTON, N.C. (WECT) - For the first time, Hazel Epps is speaking out after she survived a shooting in her Bladen County home.

The 69-year-old played dead after she was shot in the back Sunday night. She was the only survivor of the triple killing in Clarkton.

“He pulled a gun and, ‘pop,’ shot me and I fell on the floor," said Epps.

Epps said she had just gotten home from a night of bingo. Her friend, Guy Barden, Jr., her son, Ronnie Kelly, and her son’s girlfriend, Katrice Murchinson, were also at the home at the time. Epps said she was lying down on her phone when she heard a knock on the door.

Kelly opened the door and let Taurean Johnson in, according to Epps. A short time later, Epps said, Johnson walked to a room where Kelly and Murchinson were in fired at least two gunshots.

“He must have not knocked on the boy’s door,” said Epps. “I just hear a ‘pow, pow.'"

She said Johnson then walked over to her and shot her in the back.

“I then fell to the floor,” said Epps. “I just laid there.”

Epps said Johnson stood by her head for a few seconds.

“He was standing there to see if I would move because if I did that, he’d probably just shoot me again,” Epps said. “I don’t know why I did it. My mind just told me to do it and I’m glad it did.”

She said Johnson then went into the other room and shot Barden.

Epps said after he left, she got up and called 911; that’s when she locked herself in the bathroom.

“You see stuff like that in the movies,” said Epps. “Ain’t ever thought it would happen to me.”

Epps sent a few hours in the hospital Sunday. She is recovering from her gunshot wounds but is still able to walk and get around. But the physical injuries isn’t keeping her up at night, it’s the emotional toll the shooting brought on her.

“Sometimes I wake up and it just get on my mind and I’ll sit up and I’ll say ‘Lord,’ and I say ‘I don’t know. Just help me.’ I feel like crying, but it just won’t come out," said Epps.

Johnson is currently charged with three counts of murder and one count attempted murder. His next court date is March 16th.

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