The Beatties Ford Four: Loved ones still seeking justice as two-year anniversary of deadly Juneteenth shooting approaches
It’s still unclear why the shooting happened, and who was responsible for the gunfire.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s been nearly two years since four people were killed in a mass shooting on Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte. The shooting happened during the evening hours of June 22, 2020, as hundreds of people were gathered on the street for a Juneteenth celebration.
Cell phone video recorded during the shooting shows chaos ensue as gunshots are fired during the block party. The video shows people scrambling for cover as the pop of gunfire echoes through the night.
In total, four people died during the incident: 39-year-old Jamaa Cassell, 28-year-old Christopher ‘CJ’ Gleaton, 31-year-old Dairyon Stevenson and 29-year-old Kelly Miller.
It’s still unclear why the shooting happened, and who was responsible for the gunfire. WBTV interviewed a representative from each family that lost a loved one during the shooting.
Charles Billings described the moment he found out his son, Jamaa Cassell, had died after the shooting.
“(The) hospital called us and she told us, your son went into surgery twice. Second time – when she said second time, I fell. She said he didn’t make it out,” explained Billings.
The grieving father said he still expects to see his son come around the house. He said he is still coming to grips with the fact that Cassell is gone.
“I was still in disbelief, in which I’m still is. You know you’re not supposed to question God, but I have questioned him,” admitted Billings.
Kenny Stevenson lost his son, Dairyon, in the shooting. The elder Stevenson took time to explain how the loss has impacted him.
“There’s not a manual for it. There’s not no reading in the Bible for it. When you have to pronounce your child deceased, then it changes everything in your life,” Stevenson explained.
As family members to continue to grieve, police continue to investigate the deadly shooting. To date, no one has been charged in connection to the incident. Immediately following the chaotic night, police pleaded for people to come forward with information. In the weeks after the shooting community members marched to honor the lives that were lost, but no one was arrested for the killings.
Those who lost loved ones in the shooting have said that their communication with detectives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has waned, and they’d like to get more frequent updates about the status of the investigation.
Chantell Miller, who lost her sister, Kelly, in the shooting, said she has had limited contact with CMPD detectives regarding her sister’s death.
“Even if y’all have a little bit of information, just something, you don’t have to tell the world, tell the families. Let them know that ‘we’re still working’,” Miller pleaded to WBTV.
Lt. Bryan Crum overseas violent criminal investigations for the CMPD. He spoke to WBTV about the investigation into the Beatties Ford Road mass shooting and apologized for the concerns about a lack of communication between detectives and the families who lost loved ones.
“I’m sorry. What we want to try to do is update our families on the schedule that they ask for. Sometimes we miss phone calls or we don’t communicate with them as effectively as we should. I hope they reach out to us. I can tell you that, having heard that, we’re gonna reach out and talk to them,” said Crum.
When asked about the fact that no one has been charged for the shooting, Crum explained that detectives have been working to identify the people responsible, but still need more information about the incident.
“You know, it’s tough. We’ve gotten a lot of help from the community. We’ve put some of the surveillance video out. We’ve gone through tons of hours through surveillance footage. We spoke with you guys before about how we’ve leveraged technology like NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) to try to generate leads in this case. We’ve followed up a ton of leads, but we still have yet to get that one piece of information that we need to be able to successfully resolve this case and make an arrest,” elaborated Crum.
He noted that there have been several factors that have complicated the investigative process. Crum explained that the large size of the crime scene, the various pieces of evidence, and the fact that hundreds of people were present during the shooting, have made the investigation very complex.
The lieutenant confirmed that detectives have not pinned down the people responsible for the shooting. He is still urging community members to come forward with information that could potentially help police identify the people responsible for the killings.
“We need everyone that has any bit of information to come forward and talk to us,” stated Crum.
Billings and the other grieving loved ones said they remain hopeful that eventually arrests will be made and justice will come.
“I’m just praying that they catch them. I’m hoping that anybody see this and see how hard it is and anybody that lost a loved one, you need to say something cause even if you know someone and haven’t lost a loved one, it could happen to you,” Billings said.
Community members are planning to march on the anniversary of the shooting to honor the lives of Jamaa Cassell, Kelly Miller, Christopher ‘CJ’ Gleaton and Dairyon Stevenson.
Anyone with information about the deadly shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Law enforcement is now offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
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