14-year-old who played basketball for Garinger HS killed in shooting

CHARLOTTE — A 14-year-old boy who played basketball for Garinger High School was killed in a shooting on Sunday, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The incident happened just before 8 p.m. on Keswick Avenue just off North Graham Street outside of Uptown. A heavy police presence lined both sides of the street.

Police said 14-year-old Johnnie McClendon died at the scene. Officers at the scene told reporter Genevieve Curtis that McClendon had been shot in the head at his home.

Curtis learned Monday that the shooting may have been accidental.

McClendon’s grieving loved ones said he was a good kid. He played basketball at Garinger High School.

“[The shooting was] a very rare occurrence,” said neighbor Alvin Jacobs.

McClendon was a classmate of Jacobs’ daughter. He had just made the basketball team, Jacobs said.

“She sent me a text and said everybody knew him and you can feel the energy in the school,” he said.

Last Friday morning at the bus stop, Jacobs felt called to give his neighbor something special for his big game that night. It turns out they had the same shoe size, so Jacobs gave McClendon a pair of brand new Kyrie Irving shoes.

“Because he’s a hooper, he plays right?” Jacobs said. “So I brought him a pair I knew would work and he looked at me and he was like, ‘hey, well, my coach is going to bring me some because he thought I said he could borrow them like.’”

“‘Nah, man, they’re yours,’” Jacobs said while getting choked up. “Just gracious.”

“He was really like not excited ‘cause he was still cool, you know?” Jacobs said. “He’s a 14-year-old young man, you know, he’s like, ‘yeah, thank you. You know, thanks, man. Thank you. No, I really appreciate it.’”

That was the last time they spoke.

Homicide detectives spent hours at the scene Sunday night but said little about the circumstances of the shooting.

“I seen the hurt and the pain and tears in the father’s eyes as he was wiping up his son’s blood,” activist Will Adams told Curtis.

Adams, with Team TruBlue, said he knows that father’s pain, having lost his own son at about the same age.

The family told Curtis that the shooting appeared to be unintentional, with a friend of McClendon’s accidently shooting him.

“Just keep this family in prayer because here it is again,” Adams said. “Our youth is killing our youth, whether it was an accident or not. You should have never had that gun.”

And for the neighbor who gifted the talented player a pair of coveted shoes, hoping to see him light up the court, there’s an empty ache he feels compelled to help heal.

“To me, it is the responsibility of the community, because we are our brother’s keeper,” Jacobs said.

Adams said the family shared with him that McClendon’s sister had just bought him a new pair of Jordans for basketball that he never got a chance to wear.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shared the following statement with families about McClendon’s death:

“Good morning Garinger High School families. This is Principal Pratt with an important message.

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that one of our students, Johnnie McClendon, died last night. We are heartbroken by this loss of life and we grieve with his family and friends. We ask that you keep Johnnie’s family, friends, and our students and staff in your thoughts and prayers.

“Death can be difficult for us to understand, especially when it is sudden. We may feel a variety of emotions: shock, sadness, or confusion. What is most important is that we care for and support each other. The Crisis Response Team at Garinger HS has made plans to respond to the emotional needs of all students. Counselors will be highly visible throughout the building and available to assist with grief counseling.

“If your family has experienced a death or similar loss recently, Johnnie’s death may bring up feelings about that death. While this may be a normal experience, we want to provide assistance if needed. Please make your student’s teacher or our counselors aware if there is any additional information the school should be aware of so we can provide the support your student needs. This difficult time can be stressful and confusing. A sudden death may be disturbing to you as well as to your student. It is for this reason that we especially want you to know of our care and support.

“Thank you for your continued support of Garinger HS.”

(WATCH BELOW: One person hospitalized after shooting near west Charlotte park)

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