‘Good kids are struggling:’ Parents of teen killed in marijuana deal gone wrong share perspective

18-year-old Alex Hipple was shot and killed in Troutman on November 4th.
18-year-old Alex Hipple was shot and killed in Troutman on November 4th.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:05 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An Iredell County family is raising awareness of the dangers of addiction after their son was shot and killed during a drug deal.

Alex Hipple, 18, lost his life in Troutman on Nov. 4.

Police say he and a friend met up with two teens to sell them marijuana when the teens tried to rob them at gunpoint.

Hipple and his friend drove away, but one of the teens shot at the car, killing Hipple instantly.

A 17-year-old is in custody, but police are still searching for 19-year-old James Gann of Cornelius.

“Alex was a really kind-hearted young man,” Tracy Hipple said. “Goofy, silly, loved to horse around, liked to tease his sisters, enjoyed spending time with his friends.”

They will never forget the phone call they received earlier this month.

“We were in bed and it’s about 11:01,” Tracy said. “The sheriff and two Troutman police officers showed up at our house and gave us the news. It was awful. You never expect something like that.”

Their son was shot and killed in a marijuana deal gone wrong.

“I do want people to know that addiction does happen, especially to teens dealing with ADHD,” she said. “It’s kind of like the perfect storm.”

Tracy and Jeffrey Hipple knew their son struggled, even putting him in rehab in the summer of 2022.

“I wish we would have known 90 days wasn’t enough,” she said.

Alex was living at home, working, and taking a gap year before college.

“We were definitely monitoring everything, making sure he was safe, but again, he’s a kid, he’s going to do what he’s going to do,” Jeffrey said.

They said they struggle to provide parents with advice on what to do because they were doing everything they could and this still happened.

“It’s so hard,” Jeffrey said. “You have got to do all the things you don’t think you should be doing. Be invasive. I mean, they’re your kids, know what they’re doing.”

They believe if this can happen to their son, it can happen to anyone.

“There are good kids that are struggling, struggling with the same demons that he was struggling with,” Tracy said. “And I don’t feel that we have enough support in this country. We just don’t get it right. We do not get it right.”

The Hipples want to help other kids who are struggling with addiction.

They started the Alexander Hipple Recovery Scholarship to help one child each year achieve their goals at a four-year college or trade school.

To learn more, click here.

Police are still searching for 19-year-old James Gann of Cornelius, and they believe he is armed and dangerous. They tried to serve warrants for his arrest, but he was not home and they believe he left the state.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Troutman Police at 704-528-7610.