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Highway trooper cleared in fatal shooting

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SMITHFIELD-A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper who fired 11 rounds on July 1, killing a fleeing suspect will face no charges in the incident.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said on Wednesday, Sept. 11 said, "Trooper (Joshua) Kiser  was legally justified in his use of force. As a result, no criminal charges will be filed."

On July, 1, Kiser and other law enforcement officers were pursuing a stolen tow truck on U.S. 70 Business Highway West Enrique L. Lopez.

Doyle said Lopez began firing upon the officers with a shotgun. Kiser returned fire with his rifle as they approached the town of Clayton.

Clayton Police deployed stop sticks, deflating the tow truck's tires. Lopez then veered off the road, struck a tree and was pronounced dead at the scene. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, upon a request by the Highway Patrol and Doyle' s office, conducted an investigation.

The State Medical Examiner's Office said Lopez died as a result of two gunshot wounds to his back which  punctured his liver, right lung and pancreas. He also suffered a broken right arm and fractured skull.

The incident  happened after 4 p.m. on July 1 when Austin Timothy Britt reported that his tow truck had been stolen from Paul Auto Sales in Smithfield. He also said the truck had a shotgun in it.

Doyle said Kiser was concerned about Lopez firing his weapon and driving recklessly as they approached Clayton in the midst of rush hour traffic.

On July 2, Alandra Abarca,  28, Lopez's girlfriend, was found dead outside her Smithfield home fatally stabbed.

Smithfield Police Capt. Ryan Sheppard said Abarca's death was attributed to multiple stab wounds to her upper torso and neck. 

Sheppard said Lopez, was the prime suspect. 

The couple had two children, according to police. The children are now in their grandmother's custody.