CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Several local families are mourning after their loved ones were killed during a “mass causality” incident early Monday morning at a block party in west Charlotte.
Police said about 400 people attended an impromptu block party on Beatties Ford Road following a weekend celebration of Juneteenth.
Crowds of people were standing along the roadway when gunfire erupted, killing 29-year-old Kelly Miller, 28-year-old Christopher Gleaton, 39 -year-old Jamaa Cassell and 31-year-old Dairyon Stevenson. Nearly a dozen others were hurt.
Kelly Miller was an aspiring singer. She was passionate about singing and making music. Family members told Channel 9 she hoped to make more music and even an album.
Miller’s mom and sisters said they want people to know just how much she loved her family and friends.
Father, son and friend.
Christopher Gleaton was affectionately called CJ by his family. They said he had just called his girlfriend to pick him up from a party on Beatties Ford Road Sunday night, but his phone died.
She was unable to find him at the party and when she left, she said saw video of the shooting on Facebook.
“Y’all took a good father a good friend. A great cousin y’all took him from us for no reason,” said CJ’s Girlfriend Inee LittleJohn.
CJ’s sister said she wants closure and wants the shooter to turn himself in.
Jamaa Cassell’s dad, Charles Billings, told Channel 9 that he just shared Fathers Day with his son.
“I raised a good son,” Billings said.
He said when he got the call that his son was killed, he thought he was dreaming.
“But now I know I’m not dreaming because ... my son’s not coming home,” he said.
Billings said he is hurting and he hopes that someone will feel his pain and help police find the people who are responsible. He urged the community to bring meaning to the message of “black lives matter” that has been ringing out for weeks.
“Black lives matter? Show me black lives matter. Let’s find them,” he said.
Cassell’s family will be saying their final goodbyes to him this weekend, with a visitation on Saturday and a funeral on Sunday.
Dairyon Stevenson was the fourth victim to die as a result of the shooting.
Police said he was taken to the hospital and was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound, but died Tuesday from his injuries.
Channel 9 has not had the opportunity to speak with Stevenson’s family.
Community leader Apryl Lewis said her daughter was at the party and was able to escape the gunfire.
“My heart goes out to all the parents that lost their babies,” Lewis said. “I am so sorry, but all I know is I’m going to work harder.”
Lewis said the shooting was counterproductive. She organized a Juneteenth celebration Friday, while supporting recent protests calling for justice, racial equality and change.
“Especially when it comes to protecting our youth out here from instances like this, from experiences like this,” Lewis said. “And knowing that I woke up to my daughter explaining to me and sending me videos and conversations of what she actually experienced. Again, I was sleeping. I could’ve woken up to my daughter not being here just like other parents are experiencing right now. It’s ridiculous.”
“I love Charlotte. What I don’t like is all the lives being taken in the black community. Lives being cut so short,” said neighbor Betty Oates. “God wants us to love one another.”
No arrests have been made. Police announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
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