Suspect arrested in shooting of Windsor man

Published 7:59 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FRANKLIN—Authorities have arrested a 28-year-old Richmond man accused of shooting a Windsor resident multiple times in Franklin in January. After being shot, the victim drove to a friend’s house almost half an hour away to get help.

Eric Johntelle Francis was arrested Monday by Richmond police following a shoplifting incident at a store. He is scheduled to be sent to Franklin on Sept. 14 for arraignment on charges of attempted robbery, discharging a firearm in public resulting in bodily injury, malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The charges stem from a Jan. 21 shooting in Franklin. Police responded to a report of shots fired in the 1200 block of Virginia Street at approximately 12:53 a.m. Officers checked the area, but were unable to locate anyone.

Then, at 1:24 a.m., Windsor police said they responded to a report of a gunshot victim in the 50-block of Church Street. Scott Eugene Hepler, 39, had parked in the driveway of an acquaintance’s home and honked his vehicle’s horn for help before collapsing. The victim was transported to Norfolk Sentara Hospital and underwent surgery for treatment of multiple gunshot wounds.

Hepler was eventually able to tell authorities that he had been shot in Franklin.

According to Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt, an investigation by Detective Sgt. K.L. Barham led to an arrest warrant being issued for Francis on March 18.

Whitt said Francis was arrested after he was observed shoplifting some merchandise from a store in Richmond and was confronted by a store employee. A fight then ensued. During the struggle, the employee removed a pistol from Francis’ pocket. The two were still fighting when police arrived and took Francis into custody. Authorities later discovered that he was wanted in Franklin for the Jan. 21 shooting.

Francis faces a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Richmond.