2 dead, 12 hurt after over 100 shots fired at big crowd at outdoor Charlotte party

Written by on June 22, 2020

Two people were killed and at least 12 hurt early Monday after a multi-day street party erupted in lots of gunfire in northwest Charlotte, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

Five of the 12 injured people were struck by cars as they began scrambling across streets away from the chaotic scene, police said. Three of the people who were injured are fighting for their life, police said.

At a news conference Monday, investigators said that as many as 400 people were attending the celebration at the time, and at least 100 rounds were fired into the crowd. No CMPD officers fired their weapons, officials said.

The two people who were killed were identified Monday afternoon by CMPD as Kelly Miller, 29, and Christopher Antonio Gleaton, 28.

“It was a very, very chaotic scene,” Deputy Chief Gerald Smith said. “This was a mass casualty incident.”

He lamented that no witnesses had come forward yet, saying, “400 people in one spot, we have not one witness.” Smith said, and urged people to provide police with information about the shooting.

Keith Bailey told the Observer was at his home a few blocks away when he heard the bursts of gunfire.

“It was kind of like a little war,” said Bailey, who served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1984, and saw combat in Grenada.

“It sounded like it was when I was back in the service,” Bailey said. “When you hear gunfire like that, it’s kind of scary.”

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles issued a statement calling the shootings “a senseless act of violence” that marred the holiday festivities.

“What should have been a joyous celebration of freedom, became a moment where people lost their lives,” Lyles said in a series of tweet.

“To those families who lost loved ones this morning, I am grieving with you. And to all of those with injuries, I hope you recover quickly. I also want to thank the first responders who were on the scene and cared for those who were injured.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call CMPD at 704-432-8477 or leave information anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or charlottecrimestoppers.com/.

Several weapons used

The incident happened about 12:30 a.m. on the 1800 block of Beatties Ford Road, police said, near Catherine Simmons Avenue. The area runs parallel to Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Park.

The gunfire started after police were called to the area in connection with a pedestrian struck by a vehicle shortly after midnight, CMPD Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings told news outlets at the scene.

“A short time later, they located a female victim with an apparent gunshot wound, lying in the roadway on Beatties Ford Road. The victim was pronounced deceased on the scene by Medic,” CMPD said.

Eight others were struck by gunfire on Beatties Ford Road, police said. One of those people was taken to a local hospital by Medic with life-threatening injuries, police said, and was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

Investigators say there is evidence “several different caliber weapons” were fired simultaneously, indicating more than one person was shooting. 

It was not clear who they were targeting or why they started shooting, Smith said.

In addition to those who were shot, five people showed up at local hospitals and said they had been struck by vehicles, CMPD said in a release. “It is believed that one person was the original victim that officers were responding to, and the other four were also struck by fleeing vehicles.”

Witnesses told WCNC that gunfire seemed to come from all directions and may have involved multiple people firing dozens of shots.

Two blocks of Beatties Ford Road remained closed between Lasalle Street and Dr. Webber Avenue. 

Peaceful march planned

Jennings described the event as a multi-day “impromptu block party” for Juneteenth that had been running off and on since Friday.

The official Juneteenth celebration included a March through the neighborhood Friday but continued in several unofficial celebrations throughout the weekend, Smith said.

Juneteenth celebrates the events of June 19, 1865, when the last of the nation’s enslaved people learned they had been set free by the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Witnesses told WBTV the neighborhood’s Juneteenth affair had been “a happy, peaceful celebration” prior to the violence. Street racing and drivers “doing donuts in the road” had been part of the celebration, witnesses told the station.

In response to the shooting, a peaceful march is planned for the area at 2 p.m. Monday, organized by Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury. The group has held numerous demonstrations and marches in Charlotte in recent weeks in response to the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd. 

Monday’s march starts at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road. A flyer for the march reads, “Black lives won’t matter to others until they matter to us.”

Prior homicides

Catherine Simmons Avenue has experienced violence before, according to a report this year by the Observer.

Three people were shot to death within a half-mile of each other last year; a fourth was killed just around the corner, on Beatties Ford Road, the Observer reported. They were among the 107 people who were killed in Charlotte last year, when the city suffered its highest homicide toll since 1993.

There have been 48 homicides in Charlotte so far this year, according to CMPD

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