Family and friends remember man shot and killed uptown

Published: May. 29, 2011 at 1:31 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2011 at 2:37 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Monday night dozens of family and friends held a vigil near the spot in uptown Charlotte where a 22-year old man was shot and killed early Sunday morning.

The family of Antwan Smith says they are looking for answers, and they're calling for anyone with information about his murder to come forward.  They also want the shooter to turn himself in.

"You know what you did was wrong," said Smith's twin brother Antonio.  "Now do the right thing."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say Antwan Smith was killed after two groups began fighting along the 200 block of 3rd Street early Sunday morning around 1:08 a.m.

Police in Charlotte say at least 70 people were arrested in a melee that lead to the deadly shooting.

Shawnta Smith says her brother was not the intended target.

"From what we understand it wasn't even his fight but he took the bullet. He always defended his friends and people knew him for that," Smith said.

Officers say someone pulled out a handgun and started to shooting, Smith was shot in the head. He was pronounced dead by MEDIC when they arrived at the scene.

"I know somebody saw something - out of that whole crowd - someone knows. It's just a matter of time until their conscience or something - somebody's going to let us know something. All we want is closure just want to know what happened," Smith said.

Friends say Smith had gone to Speed Street Saturday night.  The shooting happened two hours after the festival ended.

Another man, Durante James, was shot in the leg and transported to Carolinas Medical Center but is expected to be okay.  He was no longer in the hospital as of Monday.

City leaders in Charlotte call the incident "disturbing" and "unacceptable."  Charlotte's mayor, Anthony Foxx, released at statement to WBTV saying this incident serves as a harsh reminder to the city and the police department.

"The crime that took place Sunday morning is disturbing and unacceptable.  Neither our center city nor any of our neighborhoods are appropriate places for violence," Foxx said in his statement. "Over the last twenty four hours, our police force has been focused on getting to the bottom of this incident. I have full confidence that Chief [Rodney] Monroe will use all of the tools available to find and ensure the prosecution of those responsible and take preemptive actions to make sure this rare occurrence does not repeat itself. While Charlotte's crime rate is the lowest in 30 years, the events of Sunday night are a harsh reminder that we still have more work to do."

Related article: Uptown chaos causes concern for 2012 DNC

Police told WBTV they saw people flashing gang signs during the melee, while challenging other people and police officers, attempting to block sidewalks and impeding traffic.

"You hear 'pop, pop, pop, pop'...people screaming..running," witness Andy Davis told WBTV.

Davis and his friend, Andrew Quinn, saw Smith lying in the street.

"When I saw the man laying there and blood pouring into the streets. I was thinking this city needs a revival - true love," Quinn said.

According to a release from CMPD, officers responded to several confrontations within the College and Trade Street area, which they say were "unrelated to the Speed Street event which ended hours earlier at approximately 11:00 p.m. on Saturday."

Police say several groups of 50 or more people were confronting each other "and refusing police commands to disperse."

"Police are trying to put up metal barricades to keep people back [and] they're pushing them over. People yelling at cops 'Forget the police, y'all aren't gonna do anything! Y'all don't run this, we run this' type thing. Gang signs being thrown up and it's something out of a movie," witness Alex Fernelius said.

Officers estimate there were between 25,000 to 30,000 people in the four block area of uptown Charlotte, with additional groups gathered around the Transit Center.

Among the approximately 70 people CMPD arrested were 15 juveniles.  The majority of the arrests were made for disorderly conduct, fighting, assault and impeding traffic.

But no one was arrested for the murder.

"To the person who did it...I don't know why they did it - it was probably over something petty but it's not right for them to take someone's life - not from their family. A mother shouldn't have to bury her child," Smith said.

Smith is the father of a four year old boy.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit Detective. In addition, you may also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.