100+ gunshots fired in ‘mass casualty’ incident at north Charlotte block party, 4 dead

Updated: Jun. 23, 2020 at 10:33 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Four people are dead and 10 people are injured after a block party that led to a shooting and several people being hit by vehicles in north Charlotte Monday. Police are calling the incident a “mass casualty” and say over 100 rounds were fired into a crowd of around 400 people.

Just before 12:30 p.m. Monday, officials identified the two people killed as 29-year-old Kelly Miller and 28-year-old Christopher Antonio Gleaton. Police say some of the other people who were injured are fighting for their lives. Just before 4 p.m. Monday, CMPD said a third person had died from the shooting. That person was identified as 39-year-old Jamaa Keon Cassell.

Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, CMPD says a fourth person, 31-year-old Dairyon Dejean Stevenson, died from the shooting.

The violent scene unfolded around 12:30 a.m. Monday on Beatties Ford Road near Catherine Simmons Avenue following a neighborhood party.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they were initially called to the area after hearing a pedestrian may have been hit. Officers arrived to find hundreds of people in the streets as shots went off.

WATCH LIVE | DEADLY CHARLOTTE BLOCK PARTY: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are discussing a shooting that left two people dead and 12 others hurt early this morning. The shots rang out at a block party in north Charlotte. Several people were hit by cars, hundreds of others fled when bullets started flying » https://bit.ly/2zShc6v

Posted by WBTV News on Monday, June 22, 2020

“It was a very, very chaotic scene,” police said. “We’re talking about 400 people in one spot, not one witness, not one,” police said, calling it “very disappointing.”

WBTV received video from the event from the moments the gunfire erupted. Just as an ambulance pulls up to the scene, multiple gunshots can be heard as people scream and run from the scene.

One woman was found lying in the roadway with a gunshot wound and pronounced dead on scene. A second victim struck by gunfire was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead a short time later, police say. Police say they had to pull people off the backs of firefighters as they worked to get to the injured.

BREAKING | DEADLY SHOOTING: Two people are dead and 12 people are hurt after a block party led to a shooting north of uptown Charlotte. At least five of those injured were struck by vehicles. Evidence shows that multiple shooters were involved, police say » https://bit.ly/37Nr2mT

Posted by WBTV News on Monday, June 22, 2020

Nine people were shot, CMPD says, and two of them - Miller and Gleaton - were killed. The other seven people were taken to the hospital, along with the 5 people who were hit by vehicles. At least five of those shot were hospitalized with serious injuries, according to officials. Police say the people struck by vehicles suffered minor injuries.

Police say there is evidence of multiple shooters involved, but so far, no arrests have been made.

“Preliminary information gathered during the investigation indicates that several shooters discharged dozens of shots in to the crowd who had been gathered in the area,” police say. Police later estimated the amount of shots fired to be over 100.

At least 20 police cars responded to the scene, along with multiple medic and fire units.

Beatties Ford Road was blocked from LaSalle Street to Dr. Weber Ave as police investigated.

Family members began to arrive as the scene developed, with emotions running high.

Witnesses say people were gathering to celebrate along Beatties Ford Road all weekend in a happy, peaceful celebration. Some people told our crew on scene that they saw drivers speeding and doing donuts in the road, even performing street racing. Police have not confirmed any connection to street racing.

The organizers of a Friday Juneteenth Liberation Drive-Thru hosted a press conference to discuss “how to move forward and advance the priorities of the corridor following the violence.”

Members of the collective say several organizations serving the Historic WestEnd joined forces to host a peaceful Juneteenth celebration on Friday, June 19 from 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Organizers say the Sunday, June 21 violence erupted at an impromptu event unrelated to Friday’s celebration.

Alesha Brown, leader and executive director of local nonprofit For the Struggle, Inc., spoke about their event and the happenings of Sunday night.

“Last night, two individuals of our community tragically lost their lives and other were injured during an impromptu block party unrelated to Friday’s drive-thru. We want to extend our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased victims whose father’s days and weekends will never be the same again. We also wish a full recovery to every person who was injured. We must acknowledge that the most important part of our community are the people of our community and we stand together with those families,” Brown said.

Brown says that several media outlets have connected the two events, which she says is not factual. Organizers say their event was long over by the time the shooting happened and was not connected to the event in any way.

“Various media outlets are reporting that the gatherings and celebrations that occurred on Saturday and Sunday here on the Historic West End corridor were a continuation of the June 19 drive-thru event that occurred of Friday, however the June 19 liberation drive-thru celebration began at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 19 and it ended at approximately 9 p.m. on Friday June 19,” Brown said.

Organizers say the violence that happened Sunday night is tough and challenging for them to deal with. While they say this had nothing to do with the Juneteenth event, this hurts them because they say the people who died or were hurt were part of their community.

“We understand that others gathered this weekend in celebration of the corridor and we are very happy that they did so. Although we are happy that they were able to celebrate and gather on their own, it is imperative that we state that we did not organize or participate in any other event other than the June 19 liberation drive-thru. However we are a community, we stand with everyone in their celebrations and we are here to continue our work with, in and for the community,” Brown said.

Tiffany Fant of SolNation, one of the organizers of the Friday event, says they will continue their work even in the wake of tragedy. Fant says now is the time more than ever to promote positive change in their community.

“The tragedy that occurred last night does not deter us, but further demonstrates why it is important for us to continue to collaborate with community,” Fant said. “There is so much love, vibrancy, sense of community, hope, pride and commitment in the corridor and we are confident that the beauty in our community will continue to drive us to promote positive and meaningful change.”

Fant says their efforts now will grow stronger than ever, as the community works to recover from these tragic events.

“We will lean into this moment to take a stand and define the future of our corridor,” Fant said.

Detectives ask anyone with information to provide it by contacting them directly at 704-432-TIPS or leaving the information anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or http://charlottecrimestoppers.com/. The information provided to Crime Stoppers is anonymous. You do not have to leave your name, phone number, or address, and you do not have to appear in court. Information leading to an arrest in a homicide can also result in a monetary reward of up to $5,000.

The investigation into this case is active and ongoing.

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