Woman breaks ankle running from gunfire at Carolina Place Mall

PINEVILLE, N.C. — Two men accused of shooting each other inside Carolina Place Mall are facing criminal charges.

Police said they have obtained arrest warrants for 32-year-old Kevion Donshare Harris and 24-year-old Jamie G’Vantay Williams, charging both with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury.

The shooting happened Saturday afternoon at the mall in Pineville, near the food court, just before 5 p.m.

According to police, Harris and Williams got into an argument, started shooting and then shot each other.

“This was not random at all. This was a group of people that had a dispute that caused this. It’s not like an active shooter or random event,” Pineville Police Chief Michael Hudgins said.

Authorities said one of the shooters was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and the other took himself to the hospital. Police said both their injuries are non-life-threatening.

No one else was hit by gunfire in the shootout and police said they were not looking for any other suspects.

Bystanders escape from gunfire

Sonya Johnson was running for her life when she was pushed, fell and fractured her ankle.

“I told him, ‘I can’t walk,’” Johnson told Channel 9. “I can’t walk, and I said, ‘I think I broke my leg.’”

Johnson was with her son when everybody scrambled for the exits.

“It’s sad,” she said. “It’s sad that innocent bystanders, people are getting hurt over a bunch of nonsense.”

Daryl Sowell and his wife, Tonya Sowell, said they were in the mall when the gunfire erupted, and they fled to safety.

“We were passing by the kids’ Foot Locker on the second floor. I heard about, I think, it was five shots,” Daryl Sowell said.

“Five shots rang out. People started running. The lady at Aerie yelled, ‘Come in; come in,’ so I ran that way,” Tonya Sowell said. “It’s very tough ‘cause, frankly, I’m sick of it all, shooting every week. I don’t know what the solution is, but somebody needs to do something.”

The anguish was hardest on parents who got separated from their children.

Detra Poole searched for her 10-year-old daughter, Makyla Jeter, and her daughter’s best friend, Ayala.

“I just started hollering their names,” Poole said. “It was very scary because I couldn’t find the girls. I couldn’t find them.”

“I am only 10 years old, and I went through my first shooting. And if I never found my mom, I don’t know where I would be,” Jeter said. “Today, I thought I was gonna lose my life and didn’t know what was going on, so I just want everybody to stay safe.”

Advocacy groups frustrated over constant gun violence

Lisa Crawford with the advocacy group Mothers of Murdered Offspring said she is sad about violence in the community.

“It just penetrated my heart so much to see such a young child having to experience running for her life,” Crawford said.

She said the fact that the suspects were Black frustrates her.

“We constantly want other people to value us, and we’re not valuing ourselves at all,” Crawford said. “And we’re just killing each other so senselessly.”

Jonathan Hill is with the group 100 Black Men of Charlotte. The organization started a billboard campaign in March to combat Black on Black crime.

“Progress has gone well, but we are looking for it to be better,” Hill said.

Over the years, 100 Black Men of Charlotte has helped hundreds of kids who have few opportunities and options.

“Our individual mentee’s have gone on to be doctors and lawyers, all because we have provided that level of exposure,” Hill said.

He believes that the men involved in the Carolina Place Mall shooting and others involved in violent incidents get in trouble because they don’t have hope.

“That person needs to have options,” Hills said. “That person needs to see where their options lie, if not then what are you left with.”

Mall evacuated

Authorities said the mall was evacuated and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they assisted Pineville police with the shooting investigation.

Harris and Williams were later booked into jail after they were released from the hospital.

This is the second shooting at Carolina Place Mall since January 2019 when a customer was shot and killed inside the DTLR store.

In December 2020, police evacuated the mall after customers heard gunshots. Police later said they found no evidence of a shooting.

Channel 9 reached out to Carolina Place Mall on Monday to see how they have increased security between these incidents to keep customers safe and how they are responding to Saturday’s shooting. They sent Channel 9 the following statement:

“We are disheartened and angered by the incident that happened in our shopping center on Saturday. We were the unfortunate location that resulted in a frightening experience for some of our guests and tenants. Carolina Place is a center for the community, and we strive to create a safe, peaceful environment for everyone.

“We are grateful to our security officers and partners at the Pineville Police Department for quickly containing the situation to prevent things from escalating. While we do not publicly discuss our security protocols, we can reassure our community that we are constantly reviewing our security protocols.”

Some customers told Channel 9′s Tina Terry the mall needs to make an effort to bump up security.

“The mall needs to make an effort to bump up security, even if they have them at every entrance,” customer Lisa Zinger said.

Others said they feel their best protection may have to come from customers looking out for each other and themselves.

Pineville police said it frequently trains with the mall and that training increased after the incident in 2019. The department said its response to these types of incidents has improved since then.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.