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FORT SMITH -- Two people were shot multiple times and died during a robbery last month because one of the suspects needed money to pay a ticket, police said Friday.

After three weeks of an investigation that remained ongoing Friday, police named two suspects in the July 26 murder of Brionna Belcher, 26, and Jonathan Harris, 43, who were shot multiple times in Belcher's apartment at the West Apartments at 4118 N. 50th St.

"The motive was a robbery," lead detective Troy Williams said. "Once that began, it escalated into the deaths of Ms. Belcher and Mr. Harris."

Neirod Marquis Medlock, 19, was charged Friday in Sebastian County Circuit Court with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated residential burglary, according to the prosecuting attorney's office.

Medlock was being held in the county jail in lieu of $650,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on the murder, kidnapping and burglary charges.

He already was in the county jail after his arrest Aug. 7 on a petition to revoke suspended sentences on earlier unrelated felony convictions, according to a news release from Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue.

Marcus Collins, 29, was charged in a warrant with murder, kidnapping and burglary, according to police. A nationwide search is underway for Collins, who remained at large Friday and is considered armed and dangerous, police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Rice said.

Medlock and Collins were developed as suspects after an extensive investigation.

"One of the suspects is not from the area," Williams said Friday during a news conference. "It took a while to receive information. We had tremendous community involvement, and it just took time to bring everything together."

Rice and Williams asked reporters to limit releasing some information about events in the case because it could expose witnesses' identities to Collins and Medlock and possibly put the witnesses in danger.

An affidavit said investigators received information that Medlock needed money to pay a ticket and he was going to rob someone to get it. Williams said Friday that Medlock was acquainted with Harris.

Collins and Medlock approached two men early July 26 and asked for a ride to West Apartments, according to the affidavit. Williams said Friday the two men did not know Collins and Medlock were going to the apartments for a robbery.

A witness at the apartments saw two men get out of a car wearing hoodies, one of whom had a bandanna over his face, the affidavit said. Minutes later, the witness heard a woman scream "leave me alone" or "leave us alone," followed by popping sounds like gunfire, according to the affidavit. The witness saw the two men get back into the car and drive off, and police were notified about 4 a.m.

Collins and Medlock threatened the two men in the car at gunpoint as they drove away, saying they would kill the two men if the two men reported them to the police, the affidavit said.

Rice said the threat constituted kidnapping.

State Desk on 08/18/2018

Print Headline: Police say robbery led to 2 killings

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