Police on Monday responded to reports of a shooting in southeast Durham and found six young people inside of a wrecked sports utility vehicle who had all been shot.
Emergency workers pronounced two of the victims, a 19-year-old and a second young man dead at the scene.
“Investigators are still working to determine the identity of the second male,” Durham police Lt. Jackie Werner stated in a Wednesday press release.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene rushed four children—three girls and a boy—to a local hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Werner, in the press release, said at least one of the juveniles is in critical condition.
Police have not disclosed a motive for the shootings, nor have they announced an arrest. However, Police Chief Patrice Andrews, in an early morning press conference live streamed by WRAL near the crime scene, said the shootings does not appear to be a random incident.
A parade of law enforcement officers had arrived at the crime scene before dawn, and during a press conference on South Alston Avenue, Andrews said detectives were at the hospital trying to cull information from the victims that might lead to arrests.
The police chief said the department had also contacted officials with Durham Public Schools to prohibit in-person attendance and instead rely on remote learning for the day at nearby Burton Elementary School, while detectives searched the area for evidence.
It was just after 3 a.m. when police were dispatched to reports of a shooting on Mathison Street, near S. Alston Avenue, and within walking distance of N.C. Central University.
The shooting was reported around 3:03 a.m. on Monday near the intersection of Mathison Street and Eugene Street. When officers arrived they found a black Hyundai SUV that had crashed into a utility pole near the intersection of Mathison and Eugene streets.
All six gunshot victims were inside the SUV.
The shootings happened several days after the police chief presented a third quarter crime update to city council members and told the elected officials that the “sheer number” of guns in the city is “staggering.”
She also described a harrowing scenario where the city’s firearm assailants are shooting to kill.
With three months to go before the year’s end, Durham police by September 30 had investigated 43 homicides, surpassing the city’s deadliest year in bloody 2016, when 42 people were victims of violence.
The fatal shooting of two-year-old Shaquana Atwater at the old Few Gardens public housing complex in 1994 inspired the Durham Homicide Memorial Quilt currently on display at the Durham County Justice Center.
Shaquana’s death nearly 30 years ago was considered an outlier, an aberration, even at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. But in recent years, more and more children—all African American—are getting caught in the line of deadly gunfire.
So far this year, police said Ian Wells, 15, was fatally shot during a robbery that happened near the intersection of S. Alston Avenue and Highway 147, not far from where the six young people were shot Monday. Police charged two teens, ages 15 and 16, with Wells’s death.
A 17-year-old whose name was not disclosed by police was gunned down in June on Holloway Street.
Another 17-year-old whose name was not disclosed by police was fatally shot in the parking lot of an East Durham convenience store near the intersection of East Main and South Elm streets.
In late November, on East Durham’s Drew Street, a late night fusillade of what neighbors describe as 20 to 30 gunshots killed a teen and wounded two other people
Gun violence the year before was even more deadly for Black youth whose lives were tragically and prematurely cut short, including for younger children and those caught in deadly gunfire.
In June of last year, Esahaq Msbah Saleh Fadhal, 17, died in front of a convenience store on Holloway Street when he was struck by two passing cars firing at each other, police reported.
The next month, 10 people, including three children, were shot in a single night at an apartment complex on East Weaver Street. One of the children, 12-year-old Tyvien “Ty” McLean died from a gunshot wound to the head.
One month later, Michael Harris, 15, was shot to death on Seven Oaks Drive in North Durham. He was one of three fatal shooting victims in Durham that day.
In November, Anthony Adams, 15, was shot and killed on East Main Street.
Two years ago, 10-month-old Ruia Reams was fatally shot in January on Suffolk Street. Police charged her father Ramir Reams with the child’s death, and the death of her mother, Zhytila Watkins, 20.
Police in May of 2020 found 16-year-old Duwayne Clay Jr., fatally shot inside of a stolen car outside of the Duke Hospital emergency entrance.
In mid-August, nine-year-old Z’yon Person was one of five kids riding in his aunt’s Ford Escape for a late-night treat of snow cones when someone fired multiple gunshots into the vehicle. He was the quarterback on his championship-winning football team and was set to start fourth grade in the fall.
In October, another drive-by shooting left Zaeveon Hershel Tucker, 17, dead in the parking lot of Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church, on North Driver Street.
The INDY previously reported that Z’Yon’s death served as an avatar of all that has gone wrong amid Durham’s growth and prosperity.
But the words of 12-year Ty McClean’s godmother, Coretta Saunders, resonated when she spoke during a vigil for her grandchild that was sponsored by the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham Wednesday at CCB Plaza.
“It pisses me off,” Saunders said. “If we can’t protect this generation, how are we gonna have one later?” she asked. “Black Lives Matter, but what about Ty’s life? We need to be yelling, ‘Kids’ Lives Matter!’”
A group of city and county leaders, including Mayor Elaine O’Neal, Chief Andrews, Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Brenda Howerton, Durham Sheriff Clarence Birkhead and Durham Public Schools Superintendent Pascal Mubenga will speak publicly about the Mathison Street shooting at 3 p.m. Monday at the downtown police department headquarters.
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Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.