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Crime & Justice

Fatal Shooting Of 2nd Charlotte Child In 3 Days 'Absolutely Senseless,' Police Say

lyles child presser photo.JPG
CMPD
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Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles holds a photo of 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa during a news conference Wednesday, the afternoon after Figueroa was shot and killed.

Updated 4:54 p.m.

Police in Charlotte are asking for tips after a 3-year-old was shot and killed Tuesday night. It's the second time in three days a child was the victim of homicide in North Carolina's largest city — and the third of four slayings reported in just four days.

“It’s absolutely senseless,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said Wednesday of the shooting that left 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa dead and his sister wounded.

Police say "multiple vehicles targeted" a home on Richard Rozelle Drive about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, with people firing nearly 150 rounds at the house, striking Figueroa and grazing his 4-year-old sister. First responders rushed Figueroa to a hospital, but he died. His sister is expected to live.

“By the grace of God, she’s going to be OK,” Jennings said. “She will survive her injuries, but for the rest of her life, she has to realize she was in the house when her 3-year-old brother was senselessly murdered and taken away from this earth.”

No arrests had been announced as of early Wednesday afternoon, but CMPD released footage from nearby home surveillance cameras that showed scenes from the shooting and asked for people to call in if they recognized the vehicles or had any other tips. Multiple people and multiple firearms were involved, officers said.

“We have a veritable army out working on this right now,” said police Capt. Joel McNelly.

Potential Connection To Other Shootings

McNelly said there were several incidents of gunfire in the city that detectives think could be related to Figueroa's death and the Sunday evening shooting death of 16-year-old Jaylen Foster.

Foster was shot in the 9700 block of Trinity Road, which runs between Beatties Ford Road and Interstate 77 in northwest Charlotte. Police said that when they responded to 911 calls in the area about 6:30 p.m., they found Foster dead and two other people suffering from non-fatal gunshot wounds.

A 14-year-old was charged with murder in Foster's slaying.

Just after midnight Tuesday morning, shots were fired into a home in the 5300 block of Kiev Drive. An hour later, shots were fired into a house in the 11300 block of Joe Morrison Drive. Then, about 24 hours later, two houses in the 5300 block of Kiev were fired into. No one was injured in any of the shootings.

McNelly said detectives believe the shootings have “some relation” to Hopewell High in Huntersville and connections to North Mecklenburg and Chambers high schools.

“We believe these tragic events stemmed from some simple disputes,” McNelly said. “What started out as teenage dispute games has turned into a deadly game that’s now taken two lives.”

He asked for parents to talk to their children to find out what’s going on at their schools and to see if they know anything that can help solve the killings.

Police early Wednesday said officers were searching the neighborhood, which is off Rozzelles Ferry Road in far northwest Charlotte, for evidence and to see if any other houses had been hit by bullets.

"This cowardice has got to stop," Charlotte City Council member Braxton Winston tweeted. "... Our young men are in crisis. Interventions are needed."

Unrelated 3rd And 4th Homicides

Separately, on Monday morning, 29-year-old Gabryelle Allnutt was killed in Charlotte's Optimist Park neighborhood. Police have not said how Allnutt was killed, just that officers and medics found her dead in the 400 block of East 22nd Street about 5:30 a.m. She did not live in Charlotte but came to the city during Hurricane Ida.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police charged a 29-year-old man, Malek Moore, with murder, kidnapping and burglary in Allnutt's death. As of Wednesday morning, Moore had not been arrested.

And on Wednesday afternoon — less than three hours after city leaders asked the public for help stopping violence — police announced they investigating another homicide, this time in west Charlotte. CMPD said officers responding to 911 calls about a shooting off of Wilkinson Boulevard just before 3 p.m. found two people wounded. Both men were taken to a hospital, where one of them died. The other person was described as having life-threatening injuries.

The name of the person who was killed Wednesday afternoon had not been released as of 5 p.m.

Police are asking anyone with tips on any of the homicides to call 704-432-8477 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, speaking at Wednesday’s news conference, held a photo of Figueroa as she asked the public for leads on his killing and other violent crimes in the city.

“We ask — we beg, actually — that you step up as a community and help us make sure that these losses do not continue to occur,” Lyles said.

The police department has reported at least 66 homicides in its jurisdiction so far this year. At the end of the second quarter of 2021, CMPD reported overall violent crime as being up 5% from the same period in the previous year. At that point, there had been fewer homicides and robberies investigated than during the first half of 2020, but sexual assaults and aggravated assaults had both increased.

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are launching a new program, called Alternatives to Violence, with the goal of mediating and reducing potential crimes.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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Updated: September 8, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
We updated this story to clarify the age of the 3-year-old child's sister.