North Carolina

‘This has to stop.’ Number of Charlotte murders quadruples year to date

Families of Charlotte homicide victims remember loved ones

In this 2017 video, families gathered at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters as part of CMPD's Victim Services group that helps families cope with their loss after a homicide. On Sept. 28, 2017, a 67th homicide victim was found in Charlotte.
Up Next
In this 2017 video, families gathered at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters as part of CMPD's Victim Services group that helps families cope with their loss after a homicide. On Sept. 28, 2017, a 67th homicide victim was found in Charlotte.

In response to a wave of killings rarely seen since the 1990s, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Thursday that the department is shifting officers to stem the city’s rate of murders.

The statement came a day after two teens were killed during a triple shooting in a neighborhood near uptown. Police had not released the name and condition of the third victim as of late Thursday.

On Friday, police announced they had made two arrests in the case: Furqan Grice and Anthony Goodson, who are both 18. Grice was charged with murder, said a press release. Goodson was still being interviewed Friday morning, and police did not release any charges filed against him.

The deaths raised the number of homicides in the first two months of 2019 to 25. By the same date in 2018, Charlotte had six murders.

“This has to stop,” Putney said in a tweet.

In a written statement released by the department, Putney said CMPD would assign more officers to parts of the city that had seen an uptick in violence. Putney said the department would send officers on bicycles, motorcycles, dirt bikes as well patrol cars to focus areas.

Commanders and crime analysts will review shootings daily and take step to try to prevent revenge violence, Putney said.

His statement did not give specific reasons for the increase in murders, but Putney noted that in 19 of the cases the victim and the killer were acquainted.

Nearly all of the killings involved guns.

Criminal justice experts contacted by the Observer said there is no consensus on why some cities have seen a spike in homicides.

“Anybody who declares there is one reason why it happens, is going to end up looking foolish,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former New York City police officer. “These spikes come and they go.”

O’Donnell and other experts cautioned the public against overreacting to the surge in murders.

Charlotte and most other large American cities are safer today than they were in the 1990s when the nation’s murder rate began to drop substantially, they said.

Charlotte also experienced a spike in murders in 2017 when there were 87. That number plummeted to 57 in 2018.

“We are much safer now than we were 50 or 60 years ago,” said Michael Turner, a professor of criminal justice at UNC Charlotte. “It’s premature to say we have a problem based on two months of data.”

In one of the latest fatal shootings, Ibn Marshall, 17, and Anu’bius Smith, 18, were killed late Wednesday on Grandin Road near West Morehead Street, according to CMPD.

“Upon their arrival, officers located a male with apparent gunshot wounds in the parking lot located at 1432 W. Morehead Street,” police said. “Two other male victims were located in a vehicle approximately two blocks away in the 600 block of Grandin Road.”

Police said it is believed all three were shot in a vehicle in the 600 block of Grandin Street.

Officers found two guns and marijuana at the crime scene, CMPD said.

No arrests in the case have been announced.

Shannon Hughes, 47, said the shooting occurred a short distance from his home of 13 years in the Wesley Heights neighborhood.

Hughes said despite the occasional sound of gunfire, the neighborhood is normally safe and quiet.

He serves as president of the neighborhood association. After the shooting, shaken neighbors began contacting him.

“I just try to talk them from the ledge,” Hughes said. “We have a lot of families with children. Most of the children slept through it, thank God.”

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
  Comments