Local News

Smalls' Mother Claims He Was Unarmed When Shot

Posted December 10, 2002 9:15 a.m. EST

— As authorities searched Monday for a motive, a suspect and the weapon used in Saturday's shooting death of North Carolina football player Carl Smalls, Smalls' mother tried to reconstruct her son's final night alive.

Lillie Smalls said she has gotten little information from police on her son's murder during a private party inside a rented building in a Columbia strip mall. But she added that she talked with three people who were at the party, including her son's girlfriend, and found out her son was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Carl Smalls, 22, died Saturday on the floor of the Voodoo Club. He was attending a party sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

A 6-0, 285-pound sophomore who transferred to UNC from South Carolina, Smalls was shot in the hip, stomach and chest, according to Richland County coroner Gary Watts.

Watts said the bullet to the chest was fatal.

Lillie Smalls said she was told football players from South Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina State and Benedict were at the party.

She said her information came from a Columbia College student who was her son's girlfriend, a football player her son knew well, and a "close friend'' of Carl Smalls'.

"One of the (fraternity) members who gave the party was on the football team at USC," said Lillie Smalls, adding that she did not want to identify any of the people involved.

She said her son knew many football players in South Carolina because he had competed against them while attending St. Andrews High School in Charleston.

Richland County Sheriff's spokesman Joseph Pellicci said authorities continue to search for a motive, a suspect and the weapon used to kill the Charleston native.

Shells were found from two guns, but Pellicci would not say what caliber.

Lillie Smalls said she was told her son and his girlfriend arrived at the party after 11:30 p.m. and that he didn't have any confrontations with anyone. She said the girlfriend left earlier than her son did, leaving him to get a ride home from friends.

It's unclear what happened next. Deputies were called to the party about 1:15 a.m. when someone reported a scuffle and a gun, but police didn't find anything.

"Nobody knew who had a gun, and you can't just begin searching people," Pellicci said.

Smalls' body was found about 2:20 a.m. facedown in a hallway, Watts said.

Smalls played in seven games and recorded four tackles for the Tar Heels this season.

He was suspended for the final two games for violating team rules. Coach John Bunting had planned to meet with him soon about his future.