Sheriff warns of homeless sex offenders living in Fayetteville tents near where children have been

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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After the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office heard about children seen visiting nearby, it put out a public service announcement on Tuesday about homeless sex offenders..

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In an area that's familiar to organizations helping those in need in Fayetteville, the tents along Martin Luther King Freeway and Gillespie Street Bridge are not too concerning. But after the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office heard about children seen visiting nearby, it put out a public service announcement on Tuesday.

"Eleven other Registered Sex Offenders live under and around the MLK and Gillespie Street Bridge," the sheriff's office said. "There are currently 23 homeless sex offenders registered in Cumberland County residing in various places which are not "permanent dwellings" but technically comply with the Sex Offender Registry."

Although no immediate threats were reported in the area, Sgt. Mickey Locklear said on Wednesday the alert is to remind people to be aware of their surroundings.

"Monitor who's by you and what people are doing at all times," Locklear said.

At Fayetteville Urban Ministry, their mission is to "show God's compassion for neighbors in need."

"You have to be on the street and have conversation with folks that are in this lifestyle at this particular time," executive director Johnny Wilson said. "And what I've been privy of, I've had many conversations."

Conversations without judgment, according to Wilson, who's been in Fayetteville for more than two decades.

"I'm very empathetic and we keep our stones in our pocket because just like that, our lives can change overnight," Wilson said. "So you have to be careful who you're throwing your words at, and throwing your stones to."

Whoever's living in a tent and whether their information is public, such as whether they're a registered sex offender, doesn't matter to Wilson.

"We have to do what you call a background check anyway, so those type of things should pop up," Wilson said. "That's where we're at in today's world. Use your technology as your best guidance now."

With more than 800 registered sex offenders in Cumberland County, the sheriff's office reminded people of the resources available that can show where active offenders reside.

United Way of Cumberland County said it relies on volunteers who are passionate about helping others during times of need and encourages volunteers to follow their passions but to remain mindful of the unknown.