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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Police said a deadly overnight shooting in northwest Charlotte that killed a young child appears to be tied to other recent shootings in the area.
Susie Whitley, the child’s great-grandmother, said 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa was the victim in Tuesday night’s deadly shooting.
“This should outrage everyone who hears this,” CMPD Capt. Joel McNelly said.
“These incidents that are taking place that result in the loss of a 3-year-old, it is because someone’s not willing to tell us how to do better, how to stop it,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the shooting happened just before midnight on Richard Rozzelle Drive. Several suspects fired nearly 150 rounds into the home. Asiah was one of two people struck by gunfire. His 4-year-old sister was grazed during the gunfire and is expected to survive, police said.
“How can you wake up this morning knowing that your actions last night took the life of a 3-year-old, who will never get the opportunity to grow up and play, as you have?” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said, speaking directly to the suspects.
Investigators said information leads detectives to believe the incident is one of a string of several shootings related to two homicides.
According to the CMPD, information also indicates the shootings have some relation to students at Hopewell High School. Detectives said they also believe there is a student from North Mecklenburg High School and Chambers High School.
Police said there is an increased police presence at these schools. They added that they do know of numerous Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students who are involved and, to their knowledge, they are all teenagers.
Investigators believe arguments between the students are spilling out of school and into neighborhoods.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston addressed the recent acts of violence:
Recent acts of violence involving and directed toward students assigned to attend Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools indicate a significant problem in our community. These horrific acts are another terrible reminder of how disruptions in lives have caused pain for many families here, including for many CMS students. Violence resulting in death is a result of that pain.
What is happening can be described as nothing short of a community in crisis. The time is now for us to join together to help address the underlying causes of this violence while at the same time getting guns and violent offenders off the streets. We must do all we can to divert our youth before further incidents result in injury and death, and before they act in ways that can derail their futures.
We have reinstituted random screenings in our schools to discourage students from bringing weapons to our facilities and to find weapons before they can cause injury. We are working with community organizations on intervention programs and soon will share specifics.
We encourage everyone to consider how you can contribute to a community that addresses pain and suffering and deescalates the current crisis.
Asiah and other relatives were staying with Whitley, who said she was about to go to sleep when the shooting started.
“At first I thought, I thought I heard gunshots but I really didn’t know. But then when I heard them hitting the door, I knew someone was shooting at my house,” Whitley said.
She said her granddaughter was screaming and yelling that Asiah had been shot as she was trying to dial 911.
“When I went into his room, my grandson was in there, was holding him and he said, ‘Grandma, I think he’s gone.’ I didn’t want to believe it,” Whitley said.
The great-grandmother said she checked to see if the child was breathing, determining that he wasn’t. Whitley said the ambulance arrived quickly and took Asiah to the hospital, but he didn’t make it.
Asiah was going to be 4 years old in December. Whitley described him as nice and kind-hearted, and loved playing on his iPad.
Investigators said multiple vehicles targeted the home. According to law enforcement, they started getting calls about the shooting around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Police said when they arrived, they found the child with gunshot wounds. He was taken to the hospital and died from the injuries.
A neighbor’s Nest camera captured footage of the shooting. Two cars were seen driving up to the home. Once parked, the suspects got out of the car and gunfire erupted through the neighborhood.
WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.
One neighbor said she was “devastated” by what happened in the neighborhood.
”I just have condolences for the family and I am devastated we had this kind of tragedy in this area,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.
CMPD Maj. Ryan Butler said he needs the shooting “to be a call to everybody.”
“This is a situation where we have a very young, innocent child who has been taken from the community due to the actions of some individuals who have demonstrated complete disregard for the welfare of their fellow human being,” Butler said.
Police said there is some indication that other houses were struck in the shooting. Investigators have been walking around and talking to neighbors.
According to the CMPD, there have been 661 shootings into occupied properties as of Sept. 5. That is an 11% increase from this same time in 2020.
There have also been nine deaths of teens under the age of 18 that are currently classified as homicides, police said.
Investigators have not made an arrest or named a suspect in the Richard Rozzelle Drive shooting at this time. Anyone with information can reach out to Crimestoppers at (704) 334-1600 or (704) 432-TIPS.
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