Residents of a troubled neighborhood south of downtown weren’t bothered by the sound of multiple gunshots early Friday.
But they were startled to learn that a man who is a familiar face in the neighborhood and a woman riding in a car with him were the victims of a double murder.
At about 12:20 a.m., police found Larry Darnell Alford, 40, and Brenda Lee Whitaker, 34, fatally shot inside a gray, older model car in the 100 block of Lodge Street. It’s a hilly, narrow asphalt strip sandwiched between South Roxboro Street and Scout Drive.
Residents said they heard about a half dozen gunshots that sounded as if they were coming from the top of the hill near South Roxboro. Most said they paid no attention to the gunfire until they heard screeching car tires that ended with the gray car crashed into the back of a green Honda minivan parked in a Lodge Street driveway.
Investigators have not disclosed a motive for the shootings. Several residents said the person responsible for the shootings may have been inside the car with Alford and Whitaker, because the windows of the vehicle were still intact when the gunfire ended.
Monique Danquah, 39, who lives near the intersection of Scout and Lodge streets, said she was watching TV when she heard the gunshots. She described the neighborhood as “quiet,” but said sometimes people affiliated with gangs come to the neighborhood intent on creating disorder.
“It’s not about this street,” she said. “This street here didn’t have anything to do with what went on.”
But the neighborhood has been riddled with violence in recent months.
In November, a 53-year-old man was gunned down near his home in the 1200 block of Scout Drive. Police have charged four people with first-degree murder and felony conspiracy in the death.
And in August, in the 900 block of Scout Drive, a 48-year-old woman was shot inside a home. Investigators have not reported an arrest in the shooting.
Alford’s sister, Toya Baines,
described her brother as “a homebody who hung out with older people” and a “great dad” who was well-liked.
“He was a loyal person,” Baines said. “He was a leader who stood alone.”
Alford had been living near The Streets at Southpoint mall and had not visited the Southside neighborhood where he was killed in months. His sister said he had grown wary of the tough, inner-city community.
Baines said she last spoke with her brother Thursday. He was supposed to escort his 9-year-old daughter to a Father-Daughter dance, but had to miss it. “They had missed the dance, but he told her, ‘The clothes we bought for the dance we’ll wear to church Easter Sunday.’”
Alford was released from prison last May after serving a sentence for felony breaking and entering, habitual assault and gun possession by a felon. He also had served time for cocaine possession in 2005 and served just less than nine years for a string of armed robberies when he was 20 years old.
Whitaker also had a criminal record. She served about two years for assault with a deadly weapon in 2004, and she had been put on probation in October 2014 for a misdemeanor larceny conviction.
Baines said Whitaker and her brother were close friends.
“She looked out for him,” she said.
Whitaker’s family members could not be reached for comment Friday.