A downtown events coordinator has established a gofundme page to help pay the funeral expenses of a 30-year-old man who was fatally shot this month during an altercation with a tow-truck driver.
Carmen Murchison, 29, who works at the Virginia Dare Ballroom at the Sir Walter Raleigh apartments, said she set up the page because Taurean Whitfield Sutton was a high school classmate and she has remained close with one of his family members for more than a decade.
Murchsion and Sutton attended Needham B. Broughton High School in Raleigh, where they met in 2001.
“We were best friends in the ninth grade,” Murchison said after setting up the gofundme page, which has a fundraising goal of $6,000.
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Sutton, the father of three children, including a daughter born April 5, was a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He moved to Raleigh with his mother, Joyce Venita Sutton, when he was in elementary school. His mother died of cancer in 2006.
He was shot to death April 14, shortly before 10:30 p.m. in the 6100 block of St. Giles Street, near the St. Giles Presbyterian Church and the Raleigh Gardens public housing complex.
Police said Sutton was in the cab of the tow truck when the driver shot him. A recording of the 911 call indicates the driver dialed an emergency dispatcher during an argument that lasted several more minutes before the driver shot him. Police said late last week that no charges would be filed against the driver, whose name has not been released, but that they are continuing their investigation.
“It’s difficult for us to even process and believe that it’s even true,” Murchison said. “Taurean would be the last person you thought this would happen to. He just didn’t have that type of spirit and energy that anyone would want to harm him.”
Murchison said the family has raised about $800, largely through the sale of Caribbean-style dinner plates and donations from members of the community. She said she wanted to help the family after listening to their frustrations and struggle to raise money to bury Sutton. That frustration was aggravated when they learned someone they didn’t know had established a gofundme page, claiming it was to help pay for Sutton’s funeral.
“The family wanted a legitimate one,” Murchison said. “So I created it.”
She is hoping Sutton’s former Broughton classmates will contribute financially, but she’s hoping they help out in other ways, too, such as providing water and food for family members, some who are arriving this week from Georgia and Florida.
Murchison said Sutton’s funeral has been scheduled for next week, but the date had not yet been confirmed.