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Weldon residents decry crime that claimed two young lives

Weldon police said Friday afternoon that the shooting of a toddler and her grandmother on Cedar Street as they slept early Aug. 5 was in retaliation for a shooting less than 12 hours earlier of 15-year-old Keyeon Garner.

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WELDON, N.C. — Relatives of 2-year-old Dyana Anderson cursed the violence that took her life and that of a teen within a 24-hour period earlier this month while Weldon Police Chief Mark Macon worried for the safety of the community at large Friday.

"They are vicious, vicous, very vicous," John H. Watson Sr. said of the four men arrested Thursday and charged with Dyana's murder.

Jamonte Lamoncion Moody, Semajs Short, William David Cook and Victor Mallory each face a single charge of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the incident, Macon said.

The men are accused of firing the shots that killed Dyana and injured her grandmother, Catherine Price, 54, as they slept in their Cedar Street home Aug. 5.

Macon said that shooting came in retaliation for another that took place just hours earlier and less than a mile away.

Police are looking for Dyana's uncle, Teddy Keith Anderson Jr., 18, who is a suspect in the shooting that killed 15-year-old Keyeon Garner.

One suspect in Garner's death is already in custody. Semaj Tojuan Clanton, 19, of Garysburg, is charged with first-degree murder in that case.

Macon declined to comment on the familial connection between the shootings, but he did say Garner's death prompted the attack on the home where Dyana slept.

"This incident is not a random act," Macon said. 

"We have the four people that are responsible for this shooting," he said, noting that the case had been a high priority case for his department.

Moody, 19, Short, 17 and Cook, 21, who all reside in Roanoke Rapids, were arrested without incident Thursday evening. Macon said officers staked out locations the suspects were known to frequent in order to make the arrests.

Mallory, 21, was taken into custody in Weldon by police and the Halifax County Sheriff's Office.

In general, Macon said, "There's a problem with gangs, guns, drugs, violence in this community." 

Retired pastor Jeremiah Webb, a longtime Weldon resident, thinks some of the trouble comes from a lack of opportunity.

"This was a great place to live," he said, recalling bustling sidewalks when Weldon's textile mills were active.

"Now there are a lot of signs like this," he said.

For the entire city, Macon said, the road to healing healing will will be a long one.


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