CHARLOTTE — A 15-year-old is dead and two other 15-year-olds have been charged after a shooting over Memorial Day weekend in east Charlotte, according to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.
Officers said they responded to First Run Circle near Harrisburg Road after 5:30 p.m. on Sunday where they found the teen suffering from a serious gunshot wound.
John Daniel Morales was taken to the hospital where he later died from his injuries, police said.
(Watch the video below: Mentor remembers teen killed in shooting)
Donnell Gardner mentored and coached Morales.
“Sometimes I would look into the eyes of the other kids during adversity, and I would see that they were stuck,” Gardner said. “And I would look at him, and he would say, ‘I got it.’”
The two bonded through youth football.
Gardner said Morales was 10 years old to help in the community with the nonprofit Team Trublue, with the mission to stop the violence.
“A lot of our kids, once they go on, we catch back up in high school,” said Gardner, president of Team Trublue. “And I knew that I would ... I knew that I would read about him later. It’s unfortunate it’s this.”
CMPD also announced detectives charged two 15-year-olds for Morales’ death.
“It’s sad because now you’re dealing with. It’s not just Johnny’s family that’s going to take a loss. Now you have these other families taking a loss,” Gardner said.
Gardner said he is seeing more people he knows getting killed in the streets.
“As a village, we’ve got to find ways to connect them,” Gardner said. “And allow them to see that their differences, can strengthen who they are together.”
Residents told Channel 9 that part of the neighborhood is usually filled with children at the pool or at the park during this time of the year.
“The kids like that park, so usually there are a lot of kids over there,” neighbor Troy Coaxum said.
One mother said she’s afraid to let her children play in that area by themselves.
“It’s heartbreaking because every day this is what we hear. Kids getting shot,” Montoya Franklin said. “It’s very shocking and heartbreaking. When you think you’re in a safe place and you’re really not. You have to watch everywhere you go.”
Detectives said they were going door to door and canvassing the area to find possible video of the incident or a witness who could provide answers.
The investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a homicide detective.
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