Local News

In Durham, a family prays, pleads for information a week after child's shooting death

Posted August 25, 2019 9:07 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2019 10:24 p.m. EDT

— A week to the day when 9-year-old Z'yon Person died in a drive-by shooting, family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil.

Cousins and friends left notes and messages, placing them by a photo of the child. Community members wrapped his mom in hugs and support as she cried for her son. There were church members standing by and mental health counselors to offer the family support.

Everyone lifted a candle, sending a message to Z’yon that his death will not be in vain.

In addition to the prayers, Z’yon’s family pleaded for information that might lead police to his killer.

“There should be no children's blood shed because of the the decisions of adults," said Mirian Lilas. "That’s sad. I’m very angry."

Sandra Person said five of her grandchildren were heading out for some ice cream last Sunday night with one of her daughters, Z'yon's aunt, when bullets strafed their car near the intersection of Duke and Leon streets.

"When Z’yon got shot, his sister was right there. He fell right into her arms," Person said. "She’s traumatized the rest of her life. All my grandkids are traumatized."

An 8-year-old boy in the car was shot in the arm during the incident.

No one has been charged in Z'yon's death, but Durham Chief of Police C.J. Davis has said there are "indications" the shooting was gang-related.

"There are individuals that continue to wreak havoc on our community. I know some of them by their first name," she said of repeat offenders, many of whom are gang members.

City leaders, from Davis to Mayor Steve Schewel to Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead and Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, spent the week since Z'yon's death calling on the community to come together to reduce gun violence.

Davis also noted that more than 200 guns have been reported stolen in Durham since the beginning of the year, and her officers recovered 30 stolen firearms during arrests in the past month. She urged gun owners to secure their firearms so that they don't fall into the wrong hands.