Technology ties gun to deadly 2020 west Charlotte block party shooting, sources say

CHARLOTTE — 16 months after four people were killed during a block party along Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte, police have new evidence that could help them figure out who was involved in the shooting that left several others injured.

Police found more than 180 shell casings at the scene of the June 22, 2020 crime, and now, sources told Channel 9 that investigators have recovered a gun -- a Glock 26 9mm semiautomatic handgun -- that has been linked to casings recovered from that scene.

Time has faded and frayed the memorials where three young people were gunned down over a year ago. But for those who lost a loved one, the pain is still just as fresh.

“You just have to count your blessings and keep the faith,” said Kenneth Stevenson, one of the victims’ father.

Stevenson’s son, Darryion Stevenson, was shot and killed during what was supposed to be a celebration in June of last year.

“When I have my bad days, I always go into my room and pray. Talk to my son. I talk to my son a lot,” said Charles Billings, who also lost his son, Jamaa Cassell, in the shooting that day.

Breaks in the case have been few and far between. But now, two sources told Channel 9 that when state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents were checking a club in August, they found a handgun that ballistics tests have now tied to the shootings on Beatties Ford Road.

“Any news is good news, as opposed to no news at all,” Stevenson said.

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But it was not everything Stevenson was hoping for.

“I’ve learned that you’ve got to be patient. You got to be humble. You’re gonna always hurt,” Billings said.

ALE agents said the gun had been stolen. They arrested the man who had it at the club. He was a convicted felon but has not been tied to the shootings last year. Experts said he may never be tied to those shootings at all.

“You’ve got to somehow put some evidence together as to who shot that gun on that particular date,” said Brad Smith, a defense attorney.

Smith said finding the gun might be a first step, but police still have a long way to go in order to prove who pulled the trigger that night.

“This isn’t the first time that a person’s been found with a gun that’s considered stolen, and the gun in a previous time has been used in a homicide, or in a shooting,” Smith said. “Does that always lead to that person being charged with that crime? The answer is no.”

In this case, time is not on CMPD’s side. There’s no telling how many times the gun may have changed hands.

(WATCH: Disturbing surveillance video released from unsolved deadly Beatties Ford Road shooting)

According to one of the sources with direct knowledge of the case, investigators were able to make the connection through a technology called NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) -- a database of markings on shell casings.

ATF Group Supervisor Anthony Spotswood had previously told Channel 9 they’ve processed more than 180 shell casings and determined that at least 10 guns were involved.

Every time a gun fires, it leaves a unique marking on the shell casing -- like a fingerprint. Investigators put those markings into an ATF database called NIBIN. CMPD and police departments across the country use that database to submit evidence and look for clues.

Last December, CMPD said NIBIN led to 575 leads and helped take 23 criminals off the streets. Those arrested include Steven Staples, who was charged in five murder cases including the murder of Scott Brooks in 2019.

Authorities told Channel 9 they’ve been working nonstop since the tragedy. In total, nine people ended up being shot. Three of those victims died and another person was killed after being run over by a car during the chaos.

On Friday, police said they have interviewed several people, conducted countless area canvasses, processed evidence and reviewed surveillance footage, and are committed to bringing those responsible to the senseless violence to justice.

Surveillance video released by police following the shooting showed two men in an SUV, firing guns while more shots rang out around them. Dozens of people could be seen scrambling for cover.

The reward money for information leading to an arrest in this case sits at $22,000. If you have information, call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

(WATCH BELOW: Police connect more violent crimes to deadly Beatties Ford shooting investigation)