Investigators: Suspect shot volunteer firefighter in head during robbery

by: Nate Stewart Updated:


ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - Detectives are desperate to find a man accused of shooting a volunteer firefighter in the head when he returned to his home in Rowan County after Thanksgiving.

 “Growing up and seeing him and to come to this point is devastating,” said Merrit Eaton who grew up as best friends and worked together at a volunteer firefighter station.

Eaton said he was working Monday morning when the call came in over his radio.

“I didn't know what to do,” Eaton said. “When I found out it was Marcus I was just absolutely devastated.”

Rowan County sheriff’s deputies have identified a suspect in connection with the shooting of a Kauffman in Salisbury.

Deputies said they are looking for Khari Dewayne McClelland, 23, after they located the suspect vehicle that was involved in the crime. 

Officials said they are also looking for another person in connection with the shooting.

McClelland has not yet been caught.

IMAGES: Police investigate crime scene in Rowan Co.

Kauffman was shot in the head as he drove out of his own driveway on Chenault Road Monday.

Kauffman and his wife, Mary Ann, had just returned from a Thanksgiving trip out of town when they noticed a suspicious car.

Kauffman drove his wife to a neighbor's house. When he returned someone shot him in the back of his head.

An arrest warrant states, McClelland shot Kauffman in the head with intent to kill.

Deputies said Statesville police were able to recover a computer stolen from the break-in at the Kauffman's residence.

An arrest warrant states items taken in the break-in include a MacBook Pro, a desktop computer, Xbox 360 game system which have a total value of $2,000.

The warrant also said that a handgun belonging to Kauffman was stolen from the residence.

Detectives are still working to identify the second suspect that was in a greenish blue 1995 Saturn two-door coupe with McClelland, as well as search for more stolen property from the Kauffman’s residence.

Kauffman remains in the hospital fighting for his life.

"He's a top notch guy. We need more Marcuses in the world," said Fire Chief Trey Hoshall, with the Scotch Irish Fire Department in Woodleaf, North Carolina.

Hoshall has worked with Kauffman for about six years. He was shocked when he heard Kauffman had been shot. "He's the type that would give you the shirt off his back without you even having to ask for it," said Hoshall.

Deputies said McClelland is armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call deputies at 704-216-8683.

A Facebook page, Praying for Marco, was created for Kauffman. Click here to view the page.

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