Local News

Mother Grieves After Son Killed In Confrontation With Durham Police

Posted July 12, 2004

— A Durham teenager is dead and a police officer is injured after a chase and struggle that led to gunshots being fired early Monday morning. Now, the teen's mother wants answers.

Yolanda Leach admits her 15-year-old son, Tony Rochelle, was on probation and probably on the run when he was shot during a confrontation with police.

"He got off on a wrong foot at an early age. A man had him selling drugs at 12," Leach said.

Rochelle was shot and killed during a confrontation with an officer outside the Oxford Manor Apartments just after 1 a.m.

Police were called out to a report of loud music. When authorities got to Oxford Manor, a group of people began to break up. Police say Rochelle and another young male took off running.

Police say a man-to-man struggle took place in the woods near Wiggins Street Fish Dam Road between Officer J.J. McDonough and Rochelle.

During the struggle, police say Rochelle produced a weapon and fired it. McDonough returned fire, striking Rochelle.

"They gave chase in two different directions. One officer chased one of the runners into a wooded area but they got into a struggle, shots were fired, the runner was shot," said Lt. Norman Blake of the Durham Police Department.

Rochelle was pronounced dead at Durham Regional Hospital; McDonough was treated for minor injuries and released.

"I just want to know why they had to kill him," Leach said.

A 9 mm handgun, which police say was stolen, was recovered at the scene.

"Officers were in the area conducting patrols because of complaints of drug sales and gunshots in the area," Blake said.

"It points for a need for us to address the availability of guns on the streets of Durham, and it also points to us addressing concerns as it relates to youth in this community," said Maj. R.H. Hodge, of the Durham Police Department.

Police spent most of the day interviewing residents.

"It's crazy out here. You can't come outside and be safe," neighbor Chasity Black said. "I was like, 'Not again,' because it just happened the other night -- 16 cars and cops chasing somebody. We're moving. We can't stay here any longer -- we're fed up."

McDonough, who joined the department in February 2000, is on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. It is the first fatal shooting involving a Durham police officer since 1996.

The State Bureau of Investigation is on the case, which is standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting.

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Julia Lewis

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