Mom of anti-gun violence advocate who was shot to death says legacy will continue

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An advocate against gun violence was shot to death in an east Charlotte apartment complex on June 3.

One week later, the mother of 31-year-old Oscar Steele opened up to Channel 9 about the work her son led in the community.

“He was a protector and funny,” Laura Steele said. “I know he’s here in spirit, floating around here somewhere."

Police found Oscar Steele shot to death in an apartment complex parking lot off Oak Arbor Lane in Charlotte’s Grier Height’s neighborhood around 1 a.m.

This week, officers arrested and charged 22-year-old Kareem Johnson and 20-year-old Karnell Lawrence more than 900 miles away in Texarkana, Arkansas.

Johnson is charged with murder. Lawrence is charged with accessory after the fact to murder. Both are awaiting extradition back to North Carolina. Police haven’t said what led up to the shooting or if the suspects knew Steele.

“I just want justice served,” Laura Steele told Channel 9.

What’s even more devastating, she said, is that her son spent the last three years working with young people across Charlotte as part of his “Guns Down, Gloves Up” program.

It encourages teens to channel their frustrations into boxing instead of resorting to gun violence.

"Everything that he was trying to prevent, happened to him,” Laura Steele said.

Over the weekend, friends and family organized boxing matches in Oscar Steele’s honor in his mother’s west Charlotte neighborhood -- something Steele loved, even as a kid.

Photos and videos flooded social media. They gifted Steele’s mother with a plaque and boxing belt as a final “thank you” for all the progress her son made.

But, Laura Steele said her son’s memory will mark a new beginning for change.

“It doesn’t have to result in gun violence,” Laura Steele said. “His legacy will be continued.”

The family is planning a memorial service for Oscar on Saturday.

The United Neighborhoods of Charlotte is holding demonstrations all across the city at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, demanding justice for Steele.