Fairmont, N.C. — People gathered in the Robeson County community of Fairmont on Wednesday night to remember a teen who was gunned down in what police call an act of gang violence.
DaQuan "Mucci" Stephens, 16, was playing basketball at Calvin Haggins Park on Linden Street last Friday afternoon when another 16-year-old boy approached and shot him repeatedly at close range, police said.
"I wish I could have been there. They didn't have to do him like that," his sobbing mother, Sylvia Stephens, said Wednesday.
Flowers and balloons now mark the spot where DaQuan Stephens died.
The suspected gunman, Jerod Kutree McNeill, of Lumberton, is a known gang member, Fairmont Police Chief Danny Parker said.
Investigators were still searching for McNeill and two others charged in the case. McNeill, who faces a charge of first-degree murder, is considered armed and dangerous.
Parker said he believes a carload of people followed DaQuan Stephens to the park on Friday. One of the people in the car even had her 2 year-old child with her, he said.
McNeill planned the attack, Parker said, noting that he "enticed the others to be involved."
"It’s devastating for the community. We’ve got 16-year-olds just beginning to live their life. It’s sad," he said.
Fairmont received a grant in 2007 to help combat gang violence. The money was used to hire a gang investigator for the police department, and several violent gang members were later convicted and imprisoned.
Parker said the town had a big problem with gang-related crime, particularly robberies, at the time.
“I don’t think it’s as bad as it was back in 2007, but it certainly is still present,” he said. "Every community is affected somehow or another by some form or type of gang activity."
Sylvia Stephens said she has no reason to believe her son, a Fairmont High School student, was part of a gang.
"I tried to guide him in the right way," she said.
In addition to McNeill, police are searching for Julius Rogers, 20, of Fairmont, and Bobby Deshawn Jones, 19, of Lumberton. Both face charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Shinaha Nashae Grissett, 22, of Fairmont, the driver of the car, and Natasha Deshawn Owens, 23, of Lumberton, are already in the Robseon County jail on the same charges.