Remembering The Victims Of The Beatties Ford Road Mass Shooting

Jun 23, 2020

UPDATED 1:30 p.m., June 25

A weekend that started with Juneteenth celebrations on Beatties Ford Road in northwest Charlotte evolved into nightly block parties. In the early hours of Monday, one of those block parties turned deadly after a mass shooting.

A call came into 911 about 12:30 a.m. Monday to report that a car hit pedestrians in the 1800 block of Beatties Ford Road. As first responders got to the scene, they heard gunshots, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. They found 29-year-old Kelly Miller lying on the road, dead after being hit by a car.

Three others died after being shot. They were 39-year-old Jamaa Keon Cassell, 28-year-old Christopher "CJ" Antonio Gleaton and 31-year-old Dairyon Dejean Stevenson.

Friends and family members of Miller, Gleaton and Cassell described them as loving and kind people. Both Miller and Gleaton were musicians in Charlotte, and Gleaton and Cassell were family friends. Gleaton would often attend the Cassell family's functions.

The family and friends of the victims of the event wanted to share their stories.

Miller, Best Known For Her Song 'One Day'

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller was described on Facebook as a talented young woman who loved Charlotte and its people. She would often perform her rap songs with her sister, Chantell Miller. According to family members, Kelly had a fantastic voice, could rap and dance, and was loved by everyone she met.

"She was so talented," said Elliott Vinson, owner of Party Punishers Radio Show, a DJ collaboration. Vinson would often see her and Christopher Gleaton at events he would DJ. Vinson watched both grow up.

"They didn't have beef with anyone," Vinson said. "They were good people who were working hard and weren't in the streets. Even if they were in the streets, it doesn't make it right for them to die the way they did."

A cousin of Miller’s who asked not to be named said, "she was beautiful, warm, loving and friendly — she was an aspiring singer and had a beautiful voice. She loved her sisters, and they were very close." 

Gleaton, A Rapper With A Story To Tell

Christopher Gleaton

Charlotte rapper Elevator Jay said when a person listens to a song, they can tell who is making music for money and who's making music because they had a story. He says Christopher Gleaton was the latter.

Gleaton is described as someone who had a bright smile, loved telling jokes, and was extremely loyal to his friends and family.

Jay and Gleaton grew up in the same neighborhood on Beatties Ford Road, and they both shared a love of music.

"CJ had music that if you didn't hear it yet, you were going to hear it," Jay said. "He had a real authentic story to tell. He didn't flex. He was going to tell you (through his music) what pain he was going through, what happiness he was going through."

He says it's a shame that people will not see Gleaton perform his songs, but he will share his music as much as he can.

Cassell, A Proud Father

Jamaa Cassell

Jamaa Cassell is remembered as a good father and a true family man. He was a single father of seven children and supported his family by driving a truck. He was proud of all his children, two of whom are now attending college.

"He was a hard-working young man," said Sabrina Cassell, Jamaa Cassell's cousin. "He wasn't a wild child at all."

Even during his days at West Charlotte High, he was always considered the quiet type.

Cassell had known Gleaton since Gleaton was a baby, she said. And Cassell went to the block party that night to take Gleaton home because he was worried about him.

Cassell had a strong sense of family and faith. He lived by this motto: "A family that prays together stays together."

"He was a quiet, humble spirit, kind,” said Sabrina Cassell. “And every time he came home from truck driving he would go straight to his kids or his mother. He loved his family so much."

Sunday morning was the last time she spoke to Jamaa Cassell, to wish him a happy Father's Day and to tell him to stay safe while driving.

Stevenson, Family Man Who Loved To Cook

Dairyon Stevenson
Credit Courtesy family of Dairyon Stevenson

Dairyon Stevenson was Kenneth Stevenson’s only child. His father said Dairyon had an infectious smile.

“He was loved by everybody,” said Stevenson. “He was humorous and the life of the party. It was never a dull moment around him.”

Dairyon had three children ages seven to 14, and he loved being a father, said Stevenson. 

“Family was very, very important to him, he was a provider,” said Stevenson.

Dairyon’s other passion was cooking, said Stevenson. Dairyon was a certified chef at PF Changs. During family events he was always found cooking on the grill, said his father, grilling his favorite seafood and assisting his grandmother.

On a GoFundMe page for funeral costs, it says Dairyon recently celebrated his 11th anniversary with his fiance. 

“He was everyone’s favorite … in the family, he was everyone's favorite, said Stevenson. 

Clarification: This story was updated to reflect that the party where the shooting happened was not part of an official Juneteenth celebration.

Dante Miller joined WFAE as a Report for America Corps Member in 2020 in the unique partnership using radio and Wikipedia to fill news deserts.

_