HALIFAX COUNTY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Authorities in Halifax County say they believe an August home invasion in which four elderly people were shot and killed was gang-related.
On August 21, James Harris, 88, Janice Harris, 72, James Whitley, 76, and his wife Peggy Jo, 67, were found shot to death inside the Harris' home on Fishing Creek Road in the rural Glenview community near Enfield.
Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said Monday that they "have reason to believe these cases are gang-related and the residence was specifically targeted."
Tripp also said authorities have collected evidence, some of which is forensic evidence.
A family friend, who didn't want to be identified, said they didn't believe the incident was gang-related.
"This is a rural town!" they said.
Coy Herbert, a neighbor, said the whole thing is "hard to fathom."
"It's been kind of different," Herbert said. "I mean, it's not something that happens normally around here. We're out in the middle of nowhere."
Investigators have said the two married couples had been sitting around a kitchen table playing cards when they were killed sometime between August 20 and 21.
"Whoever broke into the house caught them all by surprise because James and his wife always had a gun on their hip," said the family friend.
The NC SBI, ATF, FBI and the Enfield Police Department are assisting in the investigation.
A reward for information in the case is now in excess of $51,000.
A fund has also been set up to defray medical costs for a dog which belonged to Janice and James Harris and was injured during the attack.
"As neighbors we just try and keep in touch and check in on one another," Herbert said. "The closest neighbors are well down the road, but we try and stay in contact with one another and make sure people are OK.
"It is unsettling, but like I said, life has kind of gone on and we're really upset," he added. "We knew those people very well. But we can't live in fear."