One year after his death during riots, Justin Carr's mother says 'today was really rough'

One year after his death during riots, Justin Carr's mother says 'today was really rough'

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Trade and College Streets are in the middle of uptown Charlotte. Vivian Carr still can't bring herself to go near that location.

It was on Trade Street - outside the Omni hotel - that her youngest son, Justin, was shot one year ago Thursday. It was day two of riots in the city following the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer-involved fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

"I think that my son is a hero in the whole protest. I think something positive came out of it," Vivian Carr told WBTV. "He was fighting for what he believed in.

Nonetheless, September 21 will never be a good day for her.

"Today was really rough. The morning was really rough," Carr said as tears welled in her eyes. "I know today is going to be rough but I'll make it."

She says the last year has been difficult without her son. Justin's only child was born a month after he was killed.

"Having his son around, his son has his spirit. But Justin is really missed a lot, miss his laughter, his encouragement," Carr said. "It's been kind of rough, especially during the holidays because Justin - he liked the holidays. Family getting together. Different food."

September 21, 2016, was the day after. Riots had erupted the night before. Crowds threw objects at police. Police in riot gear tried to keep the peace.

Vivian Carr says she remembers watching the violence on the news.

"Chaos. What is really going on? I couldn't believe our own city was being torn up by people that actually lived here," she said.

She says Justin decided he wanted to show support with the protesters. He wanted to do what his grandmother used to do back in the day.

"How she marched and protested, and he always bragged and boasted that he was going to do the same thing," Carr said of her son, for whom the stand would be against unfair police stops.

"When Justin was growing up he experienced that – racial profiling cause of his dreads. He would get stopped a lot just walking through the neighborhood, just getting checked and whatever. He was adamant about going to stick up for what he believed in."

The day after the night of rioting her 26-year-old son called around for someone to go to the protests with him.

A friend agreed to go with him.

"And he told me he was down there. Immediately I panicked and I thought of the day before with all the chaos, and I told him to be careful and he needs to get from down there," Carr recounted. "He was like, 'mom, no. I'm OK. It was at Marshall Park and it was peaceful, but I'm walking back to get my car' which was at the Omni Hotel and he was feeling pretty good about him being down there."

She added, "He went down there with peaceful intentions. He wasn't mad or anything. He just wanted to show his support."

Justin would soon be heading to work.

"One of my co-workers got a call and stating for her to be careful, to go home because somebody had got shot down there. Minutes later I got a call from my oldest son in Virginia saying that Justin was hurt. I dropped everything and left immediately. On the way to the hospital, praying and just thinking about what is going on," Vivian Carr said. "When I got to the hospital it got worse because they put me in a room alone, not knowing what was going on, not telling me anything that was going on with my son. I called my family."

Police say Justin was shot in the head by a man, later identified as Rayquan Borum, who was at the protests.

Vivian Carr says her son didn't know Borum.

The situation was deteriorating on the streets in uptown.

Vivian Carr says she had no idea. Everything stopped for her. She was alone in a room with her son.

"Seeing my son laying on the bed with all things hooked up – I just saw him yesterday and today he's laying here fighting for his life," she said. "Just imagine your baby boy one minute you're talking to him on the phone, next minute he's gone."

Justin Carr died the next day.

His mother donated his heart, lungs, and liver.

"He lost his life for a good cause and I just wanted someone else to be able to live," she said.

Shortly after the shooting, rumors and chatter started that it was police who shot Justin.

Vivian Carr says she heard it.

"Actually I wasn't thinking about it. All the talk and everything people trying to talk about it – I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear it," she said. "Some people saying the police did it. Some people not. I need to go on facts. And the thing is no matter who did it, it can't bring my son back. My son is gone."


Vivian Carr says should the case go to trial, she intends to be in court everyday.

"I hope that justice is served for my son," she said. "I can't say that he did it or didn't because I don't know. But hopefully justice will be served."

Going forward, she sees a city in need."Unity. Unity. We need the police to go out in the community more and talk to the young guys especially our black men. They need to have a better relationship with them," Vivian Carr said. "Police need better training. It seems like they just trained to kill. They need a better training and better ways to  have a better relationship with the community."

And to the city - a message.

"Just be careful. Be careful. When you do something, do it in peace" she said. "We have to do better as a community. We have to do better as a community coming together doing what's right. We have to teach our kids when they're doing wrong to steer them back in the right direction. Also, we need our city officials, the leaders here – they have to do better too. Do better leading."

For her - she thinks she'll be able to go near Trade and College Streets to the location where her son was shot.

One day. Just not today.

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