Local News

Weekend Slayings Leave Victims' Families, Acquaintances In Disbelief

Posted November 22, 2005

— As investigators spent their third full day at a Durham townhouse where four men were killed over the weekend, family and acquaintances expressed their shock and disbelief over the slayings.

Investigators, who believe the deaths were drug-related, think the men -- Lajuan Coleman, Lennis Harris Jr., Jonathan Skinner and Jamel Holloway -- knew their attackers. Two other men, whose identities have not been released, were also injured in the shootings.

Investigators said they are following leads, but have yet to make any arrests.

Southern High School's athletic director, Coach Pete Shankle said he could not believe the news when he got a phone call Monday from a former athlete telling him that Coleman was one of the victims.

Coleman graduated from Southern High School eight years ago, but made a lasting impression on Shankle.

"He had that big smile that was contagious to everyone else," Shankle said. "Everyone at Southern High knew who Juan Coleman was."

Shankle described Coleman as a "solid kid" -- one who never got in trouble and someone who loved sports.

Coleman was all-conference when he played football at Southern. He even went to college on a basketball scholarship.

His friends were also gifted athletes.

Holloway excelled in three sports -- football, basketball and wrestling -- at Hillside High School and went on to get his degree from Livingstone College. His mother told WRAL that he loved working with special-needs children.

Despite police claims that the homicides were drug- related, Holloway's mother said her son was never involved with drugs.

Harris, the son of a Durham fire marshal, and Skinner, the nephew of a retired Durham police captain, were cousins.

As for Shankle, he still cannot believe Coleman was one of the victims.

"You just don't expect it with someone you know," he said. "You don't expect it to be Juan Coleman. He was a joy to be around at all times."


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