Two people were killed and at least 12 hurt early Monday after a Juneteenth street party erupted in gunfire in the 1800 block of Beatties Ford Road in northwest Charlotte, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.
Five of the 12 injured people were struck by cars as they began scrambling across streets away from the gunfire, police said. They have non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
As many as six of the people had life-threatening injuries, Medic told the Observer’s news partner, WBTV.
The incident happened about 12:30 a.m. near Catherine Simmons Avenue. CMPD tweeted at 6:30 a.m. that two blocks of Beatties Ford Road remained closed between Lasalle Street and Dr. Webber Avenue. Catherine Simmons Avenue runs parallel to Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Park.
The gunfire started after police were called to the area in connection with a pedestrian struck by a vehicle shortly after midnight, CMPD Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings told news outlets at the scene.
“A short time later, they located a female victim with an apparent gunshot wound, lying in the roadway on Beatties Ford Road. The victim was pronounced deceased on the scene by Medic,” CMPD said in a press release.
Eight others were struck by gunfire on Beatties Ford Road, police said. One of those people was taken to a local hospital by Medic with life-threatening injuries, police said, and was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.
Investigators say there is evidence “several shooters discharged dozens of shots into the crowd.”
It was not clear who the suspects were targeting.
In addition to those who were shot, five people showed up at local hospitals and said they had been struck by vehicles, CMPD said in a release. “It is believed that one person was the original victim that officers were responding to, and the other four were also struck by fleeing vehicles.”
Witnesses told WCNC that gunfire seemed to come from all directions and may have involved multiple people firing dozens of shots.
Jennings described the event as an “impromptu block party” for Juneteenth that had been running off and on since Friday.
Juneteenth celebrates the events of June 19, 1865, when the last of the nation’s enslaved people learned they had been set free by the Emancipation Proclamation.
Witnesses told WBTV the neighborhood’s Juneteenth affair had been “a happy, peaceful celebration” prior to the violence. Street racing and driver’s “doing donuts in the road” had been part of the celebration, witnesses told the station.
In response to the shooting, a peaceful march is planned for the area at 2 p.m. Monday, organized by Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury. The group has held numerous demonstrations and marches in Charlotte in recent weeks in response to the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd.
Monday’s march starts at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road. A flyer for the march reads, “Black lives won’t matter to others until they matter to us.”
Catherine Simmons Avenue has a history of violence, according to a report this year by the Observer.
Three people were shot to death within a half-mile of each other last year; a fourth was killed just around the corner, on Beatties Ford Road, the Observer previously reported. They were among the 107 people who were killed in Charlotte last year, when the city suffered its highest homicide toll since 1993.