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Police Ask Community's Help in Solving Murder of 14-Year-Old

Posted March 26, 2007
Updated March 27, 2007

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— Durham police and elected officials appealed to the community Monday to come forward with information to help them catch the persons who shot and killed a 14-year-old girl and wounded a 16-year-old girl Sunday night and wounded a 14-year-old boy Friday night.

“We certainly need the help of the community in solving these crimes," Police Chief Steven W. Chalmers told a news conference. Mayor William V. Bell and city council members joined Chalmers to emphasize the need for the community to support police.

Tavisa Cartnail, 14, of Fidelity Drive, who was in the backseat of an SUV, was killed Sunday night when a bullet hit her while she was in the back seat of an SUV traveling north on Driver Street near Taylor Street, Chalmers said. He said a 16-year-old girl also in the car was hit in the head.

The driver headed for Fidelity Street and police were called from there, the chief said. Cartnail was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting happened about 11:15 p.m., Chalmers said.

Chalmers did not release the 16-year-old's name because of her age, but said she was being treated at Duke University Hospital and her injuries were not life-threatening.

Friday night at 6:45 p.m., he said, a 14-year-old boy was with his mother at a convenience store at Bacon and Lawson streets when he was hit by a bullet while they were getting back into their car after purchasing soda and ice. His wounds also were not believed to be life threatening.

Chalmers said at least 15 people were in the store parking lot when the shooting happened, but all told police they had not seen it. A silver vehicle was seen leaving the scene about that time, Chalmers said, but investigators do not know if was involved.

The two incidents do not seem to be related, the chief told reporters.

Chalmers called the shootings "two totally senseless and unprovoked acts of violence against innocent juveniles."

"Today, a lot of youth are getting killed unnecessarily just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Lynette Leonard, who heard the Friday night shots. "There's no age limit on death anymore, and it seems like they're getting younger and younger by the day."

Violence has to be addressed by everyone, Bell said.

"This has to be a community problem in terms of finding a solution," the mayor told reporters.

 “The one thing we do not want to do is spread fear throughout the community,” Chalmers said, but people need to be aware of what is happening in their neighborhoods and and to report anything suspicious.

“This has to be a community problem in terms of finding a solution," the mayor said. He also said police are making a special effort to solve the shootings because children became targets.

"“It is not business as usual and we want the public to know that,” Bell said. "We won't rest until we find who these people are."

“We’re not here to say this is a Durham-unique problem," Chalmers said in echoing Bell's comments. "As a society, we have a violence problem.”

“We have innocent children that are being indiscriminately targeted for no apparent reason," the chief said.

Police received several calls about a man firing a gun in the intersection at Driver and Taylor, Chalmers said, but police who arrived there within 60 seconds could find no one. In addition to the two girls who were shot, a bullet struck an occupied house in the area, he said.

“I’m very hopeful. I’m very positive. If the information is there, we will be receiving it,” Chalmers said.

“We’re seeing a lot of support and lot of people who care about the community,” Chalmers said.

If you have any information about this case, you are asked to contact Durham police at 919-560-4440 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.


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  • laguerita0707 Mar 29, 2007

    romeopm parents need to take responsibility for their children. you pitty because all you see is a dead 14 yr old but what led up to her death. cut the crap and take care of your kids. a lot of people care what i trhink. if the truth hurts deal with it.

  • romeopm Mar 29, 2007

    la_guerita_0707 who cares about how "you think" she was! a parent lost a child!

  • laguerita0707 Mar 28, 2007

    oh man give me a break. all this freaking pitty for what. take care of your children.....

  • laguerita0707 Mar 28, 2007

    she and her sisters use to walk down freeland drive to lunsfords food mart on hwy 70wearing purple bandanas. trying to act like gang memebers. throwing signs. i saw it fiirst hand.

  • kaecee Mar 28, 2007

    RIP Tavisa, my heart goes out to you and your family. You've expressed the feelings that I tried to relate to some of these idiots on this site. Although you may never find peace with this situation, I pray that your family can at least have closure by the killer being brought to justice. My apologizes to you and your family for seeing how this tragedy proves the heartlessness of people in this area. May Tavisa rest in peace!

  • RIP Tavisa Mar 28, 2007

    Im Tavisa’s aunt and I do not understand why people question “why she was out at 11:00?” She was on her way home from a friend’s house. Why does that have anything to do with the fact that she was innocently killed? If it was someone older I guess the question would be why was he driving down that certain street? This isn’t fair. My niece was innocent. They weren’t gang affiliated either. While people are concerning themselves about why she was out, they should be concerned about why the shooter was out randomly shooting at houses and cars? You should be asking where the shooter is and if he is going to do it again? My niece just moved to Durham 4 months ago and I cannot believe this has happened to her she would never hurt anyone. I just pray that her killer is found and her death is justified.
    Tavisa I want you to know that we miss you and we love you.

  • buck121794 Mar 27, 2007

    Hey Lulli, No one is volunteering information, in case you have not noticed.

  • Lulli Mar 27, 2007

    How dare any of you to point fingers to law enforcement or any other person when "WE" the public will not volunteer information when we witness something! Some folks just don't want to get involved or may feel intimidated! If we do not band together & get these thugs out of OUR neighbors (And This Occurs in more cities & towns than DURHAM), this problem will get even bigger! We need to get back to "Citizens Patrols" & watching each other's back! Law enforcement can only do what we help them do! If you witness something & refrain from telling the law, you are just as guilty as the one who committed the crime! It is plain to see a lot of you don't refrain from mouthing off in a comment section such as this! Talk to law enforcement. Let's band together & reduce the crime rate all over our state - STARTING with drugs & gangs & thievery! Prayers go out to the families of these children. Everyone should feel safe to walk or ride the streets of any city or town AT ANY TIME - DAY OR NIGHT!!!!!

  • mramorak Mar 27, 2007

    I just want to say ,i live in durham and i like durham,ive met so many wonderful people in durham,and i happen to think we have a great police department,AND I THINK DURHAM IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE!

  • normalthinking Mar 27, 2007

    i have lived in durham for 25 years but you are right i wouldn't walk past or know 99% of the people there cause i try and not associate with the low life here