CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Tina White remembers how January 11, 2018, started on Carlyle Drive. Tamekia Taylor feels all too well what she lost that day. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney won’t forget how the night ended.
It was an infamous day in Charlotte’s history.
“It was first time ever that we were under attack in our home so to speak” said Chief Putney.
It all started on a quiet street.
“It was a nice day and I think I went out somewhere and came back in and when I got in I was just in the house messing around” said White.
She says she and her son were having a conversation that turned out to be ironic.
“My son was looking out the window and said something about the neighbors and I was like I’m proud of the neighbors. They haven’t been really getting at each other which they would do from time to time,” said White. “And he said yeah that he had talked to the young man because they would talk from time to time and he had said that he was going to try to do better in the relationship.”
But then the quiet in the house next door shattered.
“And then oh my God we heard shots,” said White. “We heard about five shots fired and I think everyone in my house was saying that was next door. That was close by. It was like no no no.”
A domestic homicide. Police say Jonathan Bennett shot and killed Brittany White – a young mother whose kids, including her new baby, were in the house when it happened.
“I’m still kind of numb” said Brittany’s mother, Tamekia Taylor.
Taylor, who lives in Pittsburgh, said the family decided to not make the trip to Charlotte to commemorate her daughter’s death. Instead, they’ll have a memorial service in Pittsburgh.
Taylor says she was supposed to move to Charlotte in February to help her daughter with her new furniture business. But, that January day the family received a phone call from a detective with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD).
“I don’t remember that night” said Taylor.
In fact, she says the year has been a blur.
Taylor says she has been locked in a battle to get custody of her late daughter’s children.
“It doesn’t feel like a year. I’ve been fighting for the girls. I’ve haven’t had a chance to mourn the loss of Brit Brit,” she said.
Now, Taylor says she has custody of her grandchildren after a judge in Mecklenburg County granted her custody in December.
“Domestic violence needs to be addressed” Taylor says she wants people to know.
Murder suspect Bennett’s rampage didn’t end with taking White’s life. He went after police.
“When I got the call, I do what I always do I wake up, shake it off and I call back because we say the first thing you hear is wrong and I was praying that was the case,” said Chief Putney.
The murder on January 11 led to an unprecedented moment for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. After running from investigators for hours, Bennett decided to *go* to police.
Bennett showed up at CMPD’s Law Enforcement Center and “ambushed” officers who were standing in the parking lot.
Officer Casey Shue was wounded.
“When we got there though I was getting more information about the fact that our officer is going to be okay so I started to then focus specific to the mission which was to make sure everybody was safe, find out who did it, start the investigation but initially it was an emotional response” said Chief Putney.
That night changed a lot at CMPD’s headquarters.
Bullets shattered glass at the door to the building. A once open access building became restricted. The public still has to get buzzed in at the intercom.
“Now we have to validate and verify who you are. I think that’s just step one. Step two is other enhancements that we’re making to make sure our people are safe,” said Putney.
The Chief says the department has spent a lot of money making security changes. He says he won’t publicly discuss what other upgrades have happened at the building over the last year since the ambush.
Police and the city officials realized that those who work in the building were vulnerable with open access.
“The balance is this: public space, public building right – but we have professional people who sometimes are the target working there but we’re finding a good middle ground to keep our people safe” Chief Putney said.
A couple of miles from the Law Enforcement Center – neighbor Tina White has January 11th, 2018 etched in her journal.
“I wrote neighbors killed 1/11/18. Brittany White killed by boyfriend Jonathan. Police kill Jonathan. The babies, 2 months and 3 years, alright. Thank god.”
“I journal some things,” White told WBTV. “And that was very important to me. I guess I wanted to not forget - just remember.”
“It’s been a sad year because the little children they were left with no parents because both parents were killed that day,” said White.