Tylena Williams was standing outside, holding her baby girl on Christmas Day when she saw a car roll down the hill into the Trinity Court parking lot. The car circled the lot, rolled back by and stopped.
The driver got out, and he and the passenger both started shooting at a crowd of adults and children playing with their new toys, Williams said
The shooters were after another man who had robbed one of them a couple of years ago, Williams said. But that man was farther down the hill.
Instead, one of the bullets struck Williams’ daughter, Maleah, in the head as she held the child in her arms.
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Maleah underwent surgery at UNC Hospitals and fought for her life, Williams said, but the toddler who had her first birthday Oct. 20 died Monday.
The loss has left her parents Tylena and Shaquille Williams, both 22, unable to explain to 3-year-old Mariah what happened to her little sister.
“I am just going to tell her she is still at the hospital with her boo boo until I am strong enough to share,” Tylena Williams said Tuesday.
Suspects in court
Ramone Jamarr Alston, 22, and Pierre Je Bron Moore, 23 were arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder. They both appeared in Orange County District Court Tuesday. Neither spoke during the hearing in which Chief District Court Judge Joseph Buckner ordered them held without bail.
A third suspect, Shaquille Oneill Davis, 22, was arrested Sunday and is being held in lieu of $650,000 bail. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.
“I want them to get life in prison,” Williams said.
District Attorney Jim Woodall said a lot of information has come in and that officials have a much better understanding of what happened. The charges against Davis could be upgraded now that Maleah has died, Woodall said, “but we are not in a position to do that at this time.”
Alston’s past convictions include felony breaking and entering, felony possession of marijuana and eluding arrest, and other offenses, according to criminal records. He has pending court dates on misdemeanor cruelty to animals, possession of stolen goods and other charges.
Moore’s prior convictions include felony breaking and entering, larceny and misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury, according to court records. He has pending court dates on charges of carrying a concealed weapon, possession with intent to manufacture/sell/or distribute Schedule IV controlled substance and other charges.
Davis was serving 36 months of probation for resisting an officer and possessing a Schedule IV controlled substance with the intent to sell, according to the state Department of Corrections. He also has convictions for drugs, assault and breaking and entering, records show.
On Tuesday afternoon, their parents and friends surrounded Tylena and Shaquille Williams offering hugs and sharing stories, photos and videos of Maleah smiling, dancing and crawling to music, dressed in a yellow onesie.
Her funeral is planned for Saturday, but the family doesn’t want to say where or when until they’ve secured the venue.
The Williams don’t live at Trinity Court but were visiting the Chapel Hill public housing community on Christmas Day.
At the apartments Tuesday, people added stuffed animals, flowers and candies to the growing memorial for Maleah.
Alongside a poster that said Prayer for Maleah, a larger black chalk board had been added that said “R.I.P. Maleah Williams ... We love you baby!!”
“Rest in peace baby girl,” Keona Turner, 19, of Chapel Hill wrote Tuesday afternoon.
Neighbors said they are tired, sad and afraid.
Christine Mebane, 31, who has lived at Trinity Court for six years, said her daughter Destiny Patterson, 6, is now scared to play outside.
“That’s why me and my friends don’t come out here anymore,” Destiny said.
“We have to be cautious,” Mebane added.
News researcher David Raynor contributed to this article.