Local News

Family says teen's death should be wake-up call

Posted May 11, 2011

— The grandmother of a 13-year-old killed in a shooting outside a Durham apartment building says the crime should serve as a reminder to the community that violence must stop.

Diane Billings' granddaughter, Shakanah China, was standing outside 7 Atka Court early Tuesday evening when, witnesses told police, someone fired several shots from a green, older-model Ford Windstar or Chevrolet Astro van.

The van, which had several people inside, was last seen heading west on Holloway Street, police said.

Shakanah, a seventh-grader at Lakeview School in Durham, was taken to Duke University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Residents posted signs in the neighborhood Wednesday that urged an end to the random acts, and a candlelight vigil was planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the site of the shooting.

"It's really touching the heart of a lot of people, and it should," Billings said Wednesday. "It should be a wake-up call. Stop the violence. Stop this. This is crazy . This is not the way. Why take out our young ones? Let them grow up and have a future."

Tuesday's shooting isn't the first in the neighborhood, which is located off Holloway Street.

In June 2009, a 16-year-old girl was injured under similar circumstances when she was shot in the back of the head while standing with several friends outside 8 Atka Court.

Atka Court Durham teen's death should be wake-up call

Police said the girl was an innocent victim, and they arrested a 17-year-old boy in that case.

Family members said they don't believe Shakanah was the intended target of Tuesday's shooting.

Police said Wednesday they were following up on several leads, and anyone with information is asked to call the Durham Police Department at 919-560-4440 or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.

Meanwhile Wednesday, counselors were on hand at Lakeview School, a small school with a population of about 150, to help students cope with the loss.

Billings said Shakanah was a happy girl with a smile that could brighten anyone's day.

"She liked to crack jokes, and she was always smiling," Billings said.

Billings said she wishes her granddaughter would have had the chance to grow up to be the nurse she dreamed of becoming.

"Her memory will always be with us. We are still going to love her. We are going to miss her," Billings said. "Love your family, love your children. Be there for them, because you never know when it's going to be the last time you see that child."

Shakanah's funeral will be 1 p.m. Friday at First United Antioch Baptist Church, 1415 Holloway St., Durham.

A memorial fund has been established to help her family with expenses. Donations can be made at any branch of the State Employees' Credit Union under the name of Diane Hanes.


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  • nscoggins May 12, 2011

    I have lived in East Durham all my life, I consider it home. I feel sorry for the China family. Its time for things to change. It's not hard to find these guys, criminals drug dealers. Just ask our kids they can tell you whos who. I know that the police will respond to any call about drugs and guns. We just have to make those calls and continue to make those calls. If we want it to stop we have to make it stop and take a stand. Its not those people or that guy its up to all of us to stand up and make that change. When you hear something report it, when you see something tell someone. Crimestoppers 919-683-1200. Project Safe Neighborhood 919-560-4438 ext 29230. If your neighbors selling drugs or guns he is not your neighbor he's your problem and its time for him to shape up or leave. It's our choice not theirs.

  • marciamal1 May 12, 2011

    The murderers of this little girl need to be punished severly for their acts of crime. I wish these scumbags would realize what they are doing and how it effects the community and the ones that live in their neigbhorhoods. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this little girl - Such a terrible loss - I hope and pray if they are ever caught that they will rott in hell.

  • gmuny33 May 12, 2011

    So what should Cary and Raleigh be called, City of Pedophiles, Wife Killers, and back door Politicians. The people who are scared to come to Durham were never going to Durham, and I'm 95% sure they are of a certain race where you have heard those comments. I bet they go to Durham to work,i.e. RTP, and most other major employers that has helped Cary and Raleigh grow to be so biased. HEAFIE200, you could never have grown up in Durham to be so negative towards it now.

    Pseudonym, I agree there needs to be more done by the community, but don't ever think that racism is dead in this city, and this country for that matter. Racism needs to be screamed, since for so long it was screamed to deaf ears.

  • HEAFIE200 May 12, 2011

    Durham should no longer be called "The City of Medicine", but the "City of Violence, Rage, Drugs...." I grew up in Durham, and it is rather embarrassing to hear people talk about Durham, and how they are "scared" to come to Durham. This isn't a race issues, all races are killing, using drugs, gangs are no longer just african american, they are all races, white, hispanic...it is sad, Durham use to be a great place, now, it is a pathetic, disgraceful place.

  • Pseudonym May 11, 2011

    Quote from gmuny33: "...There are so many factors that go into why these crimes occur, that are bigger than racist remarks..."

    This is EXACTLY why this girl's death will NOT be a wake-up call. Any attempt by people in the community who care enough to call attention to the problem is met with cries of "RACISM!!"

  • autismawareness May 11, 2011

    not sure putting signs up will help.

  • whatelseisnew May 11, 2011

    "I am so very sorry for this family - and sorry for people who have to live in communities where this sort of violent contempt for others is so commonplace."

    They do not have to live there. It is not a prison camp, no one is forced to stay.

  • lauraleigh May 11, 2011

    I am so very sorry for this family - and sorry for people who have to live in communities where this sort of violent contempt for others is so commonplace.

  • mjlt3 May 11, 2011

    My heart goes out to the family, may they find the killers! It might be to late for this little girl but people don't let there be another one -- get involve -- call the police -- you don't have to leave your name --- stop the violence and the reckless killing! Clean Up and Take Back your community.

  • fayelcox May 11, 2011

    My prayers are for you during this most difficult time,May God give you comfort, peace and strength, Try to remember that Shakanah is in a much better place, she is rejoicing with all the angles,and beaming with smiles, most of all she is with Jesus,and she will know no pain,sorrow, sadness,and grief