Two blocks from the downtown police precinct, just beyond Gate 4 of the Red Hat Amphitheater, residents of a nearby housing complex awoke before dawn Wednesday to the sounds of gunfire.
Three cars sped away, and when police arrived moments later, they found Ramon Antonio Shaw, 23, mortally wounded in the 400 block of West South Street.
Emergency workers transported Shaw to WakeMed in Raleigh, where he died, according to Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.
Witnesses told police that a second man, Joshua Jamar Vines, 30, was taken by friends to WakeMed, where he was being treated for his wounds, Sughrue said.
Investigators have not made an arrest, nor have they disclosed any details about the shootings.
Both Shaw, of Raleigh, and Vines, a native of Beaufort County, had numerous encounters with the police before Wednesday’s shootings.
Shaw failed to appear in court this month on charges of possession of stolen goods, obtaining property by false pretenses and traffic violations, state records show.
He also had previous convictions for assault on a public official, drunk and disorderly, assault on a government employee, intoxicated and disruptive and resisting a public officer, larceny and common law robbery, state records show.
Vines has pending trial dates in Wake County on charges of displaying a weapon in an occupied dwelling or moving vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He also has previous convictions for obtaining property by false pretenses and possession of a firearm by a felon, state records show.
Family members of the two men could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Police were alerted just after 4:45 a.m., according to a 911 recording made public Wednesday afternoon.
“We need an ambulance,” the unidentified caller told an emergency dispatcher. “We got a man down.”
The 911 caller told the dispatcher that he also heard five gunshots. He said he did not see an assailant, but he did see several cars that sped away.
“It was three vehicles, all parked in a line, that all left the scene,” he said.
Detectives used yellow caution tape to cordon off the entire 400 block of West South Street and were still at the scene early Wednesday afternoon.
Lashae Morris, a 16-year-old high school student, was still in bed when she was awakened by the gunfire. She counted five in all.
“It sounded distant, like ‘boom,’ ‘boom,’” she said.
When Morris looked out of her living room window, she did not see either of the victims.
“The police were out there,” Morris said. “There wasn’t anyone in the street.”
Tony Ali, who manages the West South Street Supermarket one block from the shootings, recently moved to Raleigh from New York.
“You know, what they need down here is what they have in New York,” Ali said. “Police should have the right to search people. People will think twice before taking a gun out with them.”
Police records show that the 300 and 400 blocks of West South Street have been relatively free of serious crime this year. Investigators have responded to about a dozen reports of drug and alcohol violations, along with one case of prostitution, a stabbing and several assaults, including one involving an officer.
Shaw’s death marked the second homicide in as many months in the downtown district. Tahje Alexander Mials, a rising 11th-grader at Millbrook High School, was fatally stabbed during a Fourth of July celebration near the intersection of South Wilmington and Cabarrus streets.
Police charged Jerome Lee Gardner, 20, with the 16-year-old student’s death.
Raleigh detectives say they are particularly interested in speaking with people who were in or near the 400 block of West South Street just before, during, and immediately after the shooting Wednesday. Anyone with information should call the Raleigh Police Department Tip Line at 919-834-4357 if they have not yet spoken with a detective.