Family: 18-year-old dies weeks after shooting that killed 17-year old at Charlotte park

CHARLOTTE — A second teenager has died weeks after a shooting at a park in northwest Charlotte.

Last month, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said 17-year-old Damien Gonzalez was killed in the shooting at Fred Alexander Park. On Monday, family members and CMPD confirmed another teen, 18-year-old Dominic Salazar, has also died.

Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura sat down with Salazar’s family Monday.

For Ron Christenbury, the heartache just won’t stop. He’s now lost both Gonzalez and Salazar, his grandsons, to gun violence.

“[It’s] just unbelievable. Just unbelievable,” he told Kustura.

It’s a horrific ending to what he said started as a beautiful friendship. Salazar moved in with Gonzalez’s family in middle school.

>> To contribute to the GoFundMe for the family of Dominic Salazar, click here.

“They were like brothers, you know? My daughter took Dominic in a few years ago,” Christenbury said.

Police said the two were both shot at Fred Alexander Park in northwest Charlotte last month. Salazar spent the last few weeks fighting for his life at the hospital before passing in hospice on Sunday.

It’s yet another shooting with massive ripple effects, and this family is trying to grapple with their new reality.

“You’ve got these boys, you see them every day and just happy-go-lucky boys,” Christenbury said. “And now we’ll never get that chance again. Never.”

It’s a reality Christenbury said they can’t afford. They’ve started a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs.

But more than anything, Christenbury wishes Gonzalez and Salazar could be back home together.

“We’re out here with these holidays, and that’s what hurts the most,” he said.

The investigation

The double shooting happened between the playground and the tennis courts at Fred Alexander Park at about 7 p.m. on Nov. 15. The area is off of Griers Grove Road near Beatties Ford Road.

Two juveniles were arrested and charged in Gonzalez’s murder. The juveniles were also charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted murder.

On Monday, CMPD said investigators are asking charges to be upgraded to murder after Salazar’s passing.

A CMPD major said it’s yet another tragic example of youth violence.

“The heart drops,” Major Jackie Bryley said. “It is extremely frustrating that our young people are resorting to violence to settle any type of conflict or disagreement, so it is extremely frustrating for us, devastating for the families involved on both sides of the equation.”

Channel 9′s Hunter Sáenz learned Gonzalez left behind a 5-month-old child, according to his family.

“He’d always make you laugh,” said Gloria Christenbury, Gonzalez’s grandmother. “He’d always be the one who did stuff so we didn’t have to.”

Christenbury told Channel 9 that Gonzalez tried to do everything for his son.

“I want everyone to know that,” she said.

Gonzalez’s aunt, who didn’t want to be identified, said everything that happened had something to do with a gun.

Neighbors told Sáenz they heard several rounds fired.

“All I could think about was (that) they were out there laying on the ground, someone’s child,” said witness Jackie Lewis, who lives nearby.

Lewis said her son died from gun violence two years ago and knows what Gonzalez’s family could be experiencing.

“They couldn’t sleep last night,” Lewis said. “They didn’t eat today. They’re not going to sleep tonight.”

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Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.