Mother of 6 killed in North Carolina road rage shooting; suspect remains at large

LUMBERTON, N.C. — North Carolina authorities have intensified efforts to locate the driver of a sedan suspected of killing a mother of six Thursday in a road rage incident.

Robeson County sheriff’s deputies continue to review video and interview travelers who were on Interstate-95 in Lumberton at the time of the shooting that killed 47-year-old Julie Eberly of Manheim, Pennsylvania, WNCN reported.

Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said the Eberlys’ vehicle came close to the suspect’s vehicle while merging into a lane on the interstate, prompting the suspect to drive up to the passenger side of the Eberlys’ vehicle, roll down his window and fire several shots. Ryan Eberly, who was driving, was not injured, but Julie Eberly died from her injuries a short while later at an area hospital, the TV station reported.

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The couple was en route from Pennsylvania to Hilton Head Beach, South Carolina, to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary, according to a statement issued by Ryan Eberly.

According to WBTW, the shooting occurred at around 11:15 a.m. near the weigh station just north of Lumberton. The suspect’s vehicle – described as possibly a silver or gray 2010 Chevrolet Malibu or Impala with tinted windows, and possibly chrome around the window frame – was last seen traveling south on I-95 toward exit 22.

“We want to find the coward that has caused this tragedy, and we need the help of citizens in this county,” Wilkins told the outlet. “If this is a local person, someone knows who this is without a thought. Someone knows the coward that drives a car as described and knows the person to carry a firearm. Who is it? Who can sleep knowing they did this?”

An online fundraiser benefiting the Eberly family had raised more than $50,000 by Monday night, and an anonymous Robeson County resident has offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the shooter’s arrest, WBTW reported.

“Julie was a beautiful, loving, generous, and giving person,” Susan Eberly, the GoFundMe organizer wrote. “We will be using the funds to help others and to give to the organizations that were close to her heart.”

According to WNCN, Ryan Eberly issued the following statement:

“Julie Eberly’s life was tragically cut short when a person chose to shoot into the vehicle while traveling with her husband, Ryan Eberly, along I95 just outside Lumberton, NC. There is so much more to Julie than the moment of her tragic passing.

“Ryan and Julie were on their way to Hilton Head to celebrate their 7th Anniversary which was on March 23rd. They were meeting with Julie’s closest friend and her husband to celebrate their mutual Anniversaries.

“We want to tell Julie’s story in the hope that someone, somewhere will come forward, who knows the individual who took the cowardly action of firing a gun from a moving car into another vehicle. Finding this person won’t bring Julie back, but it will provide justice for Julie and prevent this from happening to anyone else. It will also provide comfort and a bit of closure for Julie’s family.

“Julie and Ryan blended their families seven years ago and have built a loving home together. Julie made it her mission to open their home to friends, family, and neighbors. It was her joy to have these people around her and bless them with her hospitality. As Ryan and Julie’s children grew and matured, they were looking forward to the next stages of their lives together including enjoying being first-time grandparents. Julie truly had a mother’s heart and delighted in being an integral part of each of the childrens’ lives.

“On her adventurous side, Julie loved to go snowmobiling whenever there was snow and she was also ready for any type of adventure. Summer weekends were spent with friends and family poolside at home and at their family’s camp in upstate Pennsylvania.

“Julie’s roots of faith grew deep. She was involved in several prayer ministries and deeply passionate in helping people find healing. Everyone who knew her enjoyed her joy for life and positive spirit. Her distinct laugh still echoes in the hearts of everyone she touched. Even in the midst of this horrific tragedy, we are seeing the hand of God through the care and concern of many individuals.

“A special thank you goes out to Robeson County Chief Deputy Howard Branch and Robeson County Sheriff Burris Wilkins as well as the entire Lumberton community for going above and beyond in taking care of both Julie and Ryan through the worst day possible.

“Thank you also to the Lancaster/Manheim community for their continued prayers and support. It is in these loving gestures that the family will be able to heal.

“A gofundme page has been created, the Julie Michelle Eberly Memorial Foundation, at the urging of the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office because of the hundreds of emails from residents wanting to know how to help. The money will be used to make donations to charities in Julie’s honor.”