CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jane Wester and Joe Marusak | The Charlotte Observer) - Three months after a Charlotte teen was killed outside a gas station during CIAA basketball tournament weekend, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the shooting was justified.
DaQuan Shannon, 17, was not carrying a gun when he was killed, CMPD Capt. Chris Dozier said Wednesday.
But the shooter, 20-year-old Renard Armstrong, feared for his life when he fired the fatal bullet, Dozier said.
Armstrong has not been charged with a crime.
The night of the shooting, which happened just after midnight on March 4, a group of young people including Shannon and 17-year-old Tyrelle Dai'shon Gaston got into a fight with Armstrong and his friends at the QuikTrip on the corner of North Sharon Amity Road and Central Avenue, Dozier said.
Gaston had a gun, and he repeatedly displayed it to the other group inside the QuikTrip, Dozier said.
The other group, including Armstrong, got into a car and started to leave, Dozier said.
"Once they saw that one of the guys had a gun, they didn't want to engage further in whatever was happening inside the store," Dozier said.
Before they drove away, Gaston reached into the car while holding the gun, Dozier said, and he punched some of the people and hit them with the gun.
Armstrong fired one round to defend himself from Gaston, Dozier said, but the bullet hit Shannon instead.
Armstrong's group drove away, and Gaston fired several bullets at the departing car, Dozier said. In March, Gaston was charged with discharging a weapon into a moving vehicle.
The group in the car, including Armstrong, came forward and talked to police the day after the shooting, Dozier said.
"That goes a long way, too," Dozier said. "They were very cooperative."
Dozier did not call Shannon a bystander, saying he was involved in the fight and was walking toward the car at the time of the shooting.
"What Mr. Shannon did was he, instead of just staying in the store, he engaged in the continuance of the fight," Dozier said. "And that's what — he essentially put himself in that situation."
Dozier said Armstrong's gun was lawfully owned.
According to a search warrant, Armstrong's group was visiting Charlotte for the CIAA basketball tournament, and they were at the QuikTrip with a group of girls who were also in town for the tournament. Dozier said the fight apparently began with an argument over who could talk to the girls.
Shannon was a student at Garinger High School and loved football, his parents told the Observer.
In a statement Wednesday night, Shannon's family said they were "hurt" and "angry" by the police finding the shooting justified.
"At the end of the day, we lost a 17-year-old who enjoyed life; this isn't fair at all," the family said. "DaQuan's death is now in vain. The system has failed us. DaQuan did not deserve to go out like this.
"All I can say is pick your friends wisely," the family's statement said. "He lost his life over a situation that he had no parts in, and now these so-called friends walking around FREE like everything is ok. NOT AT ALL! Then you have as well as the shooter. As his family we are all completely devastated beyond words this evening."
The family thanked the Charlotte community for its continued support.
"The last few months have been a nightmare but we continue pressing forward leaning on one another and knowing that is what DaQuan would have wanted us to do is what's getting us through these dark days such as today," the family's statement said.
"Know that as his family we are forever grateful for each of you, and although our hearts are heavy and torn this afternoon just as much as they were in March when you were taken away from us," according to the statement.
"Words cannot describe this pain, and today doesn't ease the pain as we are supposed to be celebrating "Ki" Birthday with Slim, her and her Mom," the statement said. "Instead we are having to celebrate it with his daughter without his presence. It was such a hurtful thing for it to be released today on his daughter's 1st Birthday.