'It can happen to all of us': How an epidemic of violence is reshaping Charlotte

'It can happen to all of us': How an epidemic of violence is reshaping Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We are on track to have more than 100 murders in Charlotte this year, 100 lives lost to an epidemic of violence.

Few of those murders touched more hearts and raised more concerns than the murder of a young mother who had been caught in the crossfire of an open air gun battle.

Linda and Donald Springs said time, the day, the hour and the minute, stopped when they learned their daughter 27-year-old Kendal Crank was gone.

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Crank, a young mother, was on her way to nursing class when she drove into the middle of a shootout at the corner of North Tryon and 28th Street.

"You need to get somebody over to North Tryon and 28th. They just had a shootout here and somebody's over here screaming," a 911 called said.

Crank's best friend Porschia Jordan was in the car in front of her.

(Watch video below as Kendal Crank's mother Linda Springs shares her thoughts from the day of Kendal's murder.)

"It's like everything was in slow motion," Jordan said. "I see the bullets like flying through my windshield, that's how bad it was. And, I looked back in my rearview, and she didn't turn with me. She kept straight."

Jordan said at that time and in that moment, she knew something wasn't right.

"So, I pulled up beside her car and you know, she was gone," Jordan said. "She wasn't moving or nothing. I knew that she was gone."

Jordan said she called Crank's mother as she fought back tears.

"They call me Dot, which is my nickname," Linda Springs said. "She says 'Dot, Kendal's been shot.'"

Linda Springs said she didn't want to believe her daughter was gone, but when she got to the scene, a woman she worked with several years ago pulled her aside.

"She looked at me, and she goes 'Oh my god! Is that your daughter?' And I said 'Yes,'" Linda Springs said. "She grabbed me and when she says to me 'Your daughter is dead' and, I said 'No, you're lying.' She says 'No, they told me she was shot in the head.'"

Crank's stepfather Donald Springs said when he first heard, he could not think about death and Kendal dying.

"When I heard that, I mean I could not think about death," Donald Springs said. "I just thought it was just a shot. I thought it was something simple."

The full tragedy of Crank's murder was that she was a truly innocent victim, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lisa Crawford has spent almost 20 years volunteering with the nonprofit Mothers of Murdered Offspring.

She said she saw Crank's murder as a call to action.

"It can happen to you. It can happen to me. It can happen to all of us," Crawford said. "We've got to get involved, we've got to care. We know when people are in conflict. We know when conflict is building up, we see it happening."

Crank's death also touched a nerve at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Five days after her murder, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney showed his frustration with the cycle of violence police haven't been able to crack.

"That's really the biggest take away from me right now. The lack of cooperation to close some of these cases," Putney said. "If you're not going to help us bring people to justice, we're going to have a lot of families who are suffering will never get closure."

It has been seven months since Crank's death and there have been almost 70 more murders in the city.

Crawford said she has attended way too many candle light vigils, but she is not about to give up.

"They're killing each other at will, without even thought," Crawford said.

Linda and Donald Springs have wrestled with their grief and pain for months and every time they hear about another murder, it hurts some more.

"Not a day goes by I don't think about my baby. Not a day goes by I don't cry," Linda Springs said. "No matter how much you think you are a survivor, and then you hear another tragedy, and you wonder, you wonder, is the city of Charlotte, period, are we going to survive? When is it going to stop? When is it going to stop? What can I do to make a difference?"