CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two teenagers charged with murder in connection with the killing of a Charlotte mother has their cases continued.
Zaiya Jackson and A'vone Williams are two of the four teenagers charged in the shooting death of Maria Echeverria de Gomez.
It happened on an early April morning at the Vista Villa Apartments on Barrington Drive, near The Plaza.
Echeverria de Gomez was taken to the hospital with critical injuries but did not survive, police said.
"We are relieved and consoled perhaps because they have arrested the guilty," her husband told Channel 9 through an interpreter. "Although, the pain is not removed because this is the loss of a relative so close as my wife was."
Police announced that they had arrested 19-year-old Antonio Shine and charged him in connection with Echeverria de Gomez's killing.
A’vone Williams, 17, was arrested the same day and charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
The next morning, police said they also arrested a 15-year-old in connection with the slaying, but that person's name was not released because of his age. He has also been charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Angel Echevarria told Channel 9 he was standing 100 feet away from his sister when she was shot dead.
"I saw when they shot her and she fell on the ground," he said. "We were crying, trying to bring her back but she was unresponsive."
He ran to help her as soon as he heard the gunshots. He said that two suspects shot at him too and ran away.
“They didn't hit me, thank God," Echevarria said.
A fourth teenager turned herself in to authorities in connection with Echeverria de Gomez's killing.
Ziaya Jackson, 16, was charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
“We had an innocent victim, who was killed, and we had divine intervention that helped us on that,” said CMPD Lt. Susan Manassah.
Chief Kerr Putney later suggested that divine intervention may have come by way of people in that community who pointed them to their suspect.
“The witnesses, many of whom were Latino, gave us the information we needed to do what we needed to do,” Putney said.
Family members told Channel 9 reporter Mark Barber that Echeverria de Gomez was the mother of a 13-year-old and was attacked while waiting for her brother to pick her up to head to work.
Police told Eyewitness News that the suspects robbed Echeverria de Gomez before shooting her and running away.
The shooting and robbery happened in the parking lot of the complex and investigators think the suspects may have run to another parking lot across the street. The crime scene stretched across both parking lots and Channel 9 crews could see detectives placing evidence markers on the pavement.
Neighbors told Channel 9 that the family of the woman killed has been robbed many times before. They said the apartment complex is home to many Latinos who are afraid of police and immigration and often don't report crimes.
"They think they don't have any rights in the United States. They think if they'll report a crime the consequences for the family will be worse than staying quiet," explained a spokesperson with the Latin American Council.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are trying to reassure the Latino community that they don't ask about legal status or check for documentation.
"We at CMPD do not market or go out on this immigration campaign and take Hispanics to jail just for being immigrants," said Manassah.
In fact, police said that tips from Latino witnesses led to Shine's arrest.
Shine faced a judge in November and prosecutors decided they would not seek the death penalty.
A 2013 University of Chicago survey in high Hispanic populated cities found 44 percent of Hispanic people said they're less likely to call police if they were the victim of a crime due fear of immigration status questions. Seventy percent of Latinos living in the country illegally said they were hesitant to call police if they were a victim of a crime. Twenty-eight percent of U.S.-born Latinos said the same thing.
Relatives told Channel 9 that Echeverria de Gomez moved to Charlotte 17 months ago and was working with her brother as a landscaper.
Channel 9 checked and found that Shine has been arrested three times since 2016. Those charges include misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
No previous arrests were found for Williams.
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