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Johnston County man details attack, robbery on Clayton greenway

November 1, 2018

A Johnston County teacher is speaking out after he was beaten and robbed last week while walking on the Clayton greenway just a few miles from his home.

Wil Smith, 40, of Clayton, posted a lengthy recap of the Oct. 24 incident on his Facebook page in which he described being targeted and attacked during a 3:30 p.m. ambush at the park, located at 200 Amelia Church Road.

“A few minutes later, they attacked me from behind, threw me on the ground, and then proceeded to beat me for what seemed like a lifetime. It was more like 20-30 seconds,” he wrote. “They took my phone, credit cards, house and car keys, and ran off.”

According to the report filed by Clayton police, the two assailants took Smith’s iPhone, a credit card, his driver’s license and keys. The report lists their suspected ages as 18 and 20.

Smith says he has head pain, needed several stitches and suspects he suffered a ruptured right eardrum.

Smith said he is speaking out because he fears that similar attacks could occur if the public is unaware of the threat.

Stacy Beard, a Clayton town spokeswoman, said via a written statement to WRAL News that the case is part of an active investigation, and law enforcement authorities have not publicly disclosed many details because they don’t want to jeopardize their case.

She said the popular walking and hiking trail has not had many reported crime incidents over the past five years.

“We have more than 5 miles of trails winding through Clayton, which are part of the East Coast Greenway and Mountains to Sea Trail,” according to the statement. “They are extremely popular, and hundreds of people safely ride, bike and walk them year-round.”

Beard said that, from 2013 to this year, only one other incident has been reported on the stretch between Lombard Street and Amelia Church Road.

“It was an unfounded larceny reported in April 2018,” she said, adding that, over the past five years on Sam’s Branch Greenway and the Clayton Riverwalk on the Neuse, police logged three dog complaints, two reports of damage to construction equipment, one report of items missing from a car in the greenway parking lot, one incident in which two people were charged with smoking marijuana and one misdemeanor assault in which the victim and suspect knew each other.

Clayton police officers on bicycles and four-wheel vehicles patrol the area.

Beard said they have recently increased patrols and encourage anyone who may see suspicious activity to call 911.

“I think the worst part about it is that, in just about a minute, my life was forever changed,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “It’s almost inconceivable how much I was affected in such a short amount of time.”