Arrest made in death of 7-year-old boy shot while riding in car with his mother

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 4:16 PM EDT
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HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - An arrest has been made in the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old boy in Hickory.

Court documents obtained Friday morning confirm 23-year-old Douglas Wilson was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zakylen Greylen Harris.

Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant says Wilson was located at a hotel in Hickory Thursday afternoon and initially taken into custody on unrelated warrants issued by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

Hickory Police investigators later charged Wilson with first-degree murder in Harris’s death.

Douglas Wilson
Douglas Wilson(Catawba County Sheriff's Office | Catawba County Sheriff's Office)

In court on Friday, Wilson asked the judge to remove the media cameras from the courtroom. The judge denied that request. Wilson then spent about a minute making faces towards the press while the judge was explaining the charge and court process.

No family of the victim was in the courtroom to see it.

Zakylen’s aunt, Tiffany Gray, says the family his heartbroken.

“We are really grieving, we miss him,” she said.

Gray describes Zakylen as a bright child with a future. When she first heard the news he was gone, it hurt, she says.

”My heart sank and the world will not be as bright.”

Zakylen was riding in the car with his mother and two other children when he was shot and killed. It happened around 11:12 p.m. Wednesday along Tate Boulevard SE near 19th Street SE. The other children in the car were age 1 and 6.

Zakylen was shot in the neck and taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police say.

A GoFundMe has been set up to honor Zakylen’s memory and support his family.

Hickory Police Captain Jeff Young says the mother told investigators that she put her turn signal on and went into the right lane, in the path of the SUV.

“She said that she cut the person off, but not intentionally,” Young said.

That’s when the mother, according to Young, heard someone yell and saw the blonde woman in the SUV’s passenger seat. A moment later, there was a muzzle flash.

“Her back glass broke,” said Young. “She looks back and sees that her son was shot.”

The mother pulled off to the side of the road and the SUV kept going “at a high rate of speed,” said Young.

Hickory Police asked for the public’s help in the case. The video below shows the victim vehicle turning on to Tate Boulevard, as the suspect vehicle pulled up behind them.

“I can tell you this - that the men and women of the Hickory Police Department will act tirelessly to see that justice is brought to the coward that did this - that’s how i feel about it,” Police Chief Thurman Whisnant said after the deadly shooting.

“This was a senseless act of violence and there’s no excuse for this,” Whisnant said.

Chief Whisnant says there is still a lot of work to be done in this case despite an arrest being made. He thanks the community for coming together to provide helpful information as well as other agencies involved.

“Where we are today is a great example of what happens when police and communities work together - but I do want to reiterate that we’re still not done,” Whisnant said.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551.

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