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Mall Shooting Victim Was Trying To Protect His Sister, Mother Says

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham police looked Tuesday for a 17-year-old in a shooting that left one teenager dead and another wounded outside a busy shopping mall.

Lamar Bass has been charged in warrants with murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and going armed to the terror of the public, police said.

Lazarren Tyqwan McLean, 16, known as Qwan, was pronounced dead at Northgate Mall after a fight that began on a city bus escalated in the mall parking lot at about 6:10 p.m., authorities said. Quinzell Nahdee Williamson, 19, was treated for a gunshot wound and was listed in serious condition Tuesday at Duke University Hospital, police said.

Family members said McLean was not known to be trouble-maker and believe he was defending his younger sister after teens made harassing comments toward her.

"It's sad for all our young black boys -- walking around, killing each other," said McLean's mother, Sharon Powell. "He didn't get killed out here fighting, trying to be in a gang. He got killed by protecting his sister."

The victim's stepfather, Hugh Powell, contends his stepson was not involved in gangs, but warns that the cycle of violence that killed McLean will likely kill again.

"If I come out and I retaliate, it's just retaliation, retaliation, retaliation," Powell said. "It's time to stop the violence and start with love."

Police have not said that the shooting was gang-related, but that investigators are looking at the possibility.

In September 2002, two men shot each other in the mall's parking deck. A curfew was imposed at the mall in the summer of 2003 to prevent anyone under 16 from visiting without a chaperone.

Three years earlier, in September 1999, Durham police tracked a man wanted for a robbery to the food court at Northgate. After confronting him during the busy lunch hour, they struggled and the suspect was eventually shot in the neck with his own gun.

But police say Monday night's shootings could have happened anywhere and that it was an isolated incident.

"They just happened to be going to Northgate," said Durham Police Department spokeswoman Kammie Michael. "I think it would have happened wherever they had been going. So, it was not specific to Northgate and it never got into the mall."

Despite the incident, Northgate officials maintain the mall's current level of security is extremely high with security cameras covering the perimeter of the mall and security officers patrolling the property. There is also a police substation at the mall.

Most shoppers WRAL spoke to said they would not be deterred by the shootings.

"It can happen anywhere," said shopper Mary Elliott. "I'm going to continue shopping. They don't affect me."

"I mean, I go all over the mall and I ain't never had any problem being secure, being safe," said another shopper, Paul Evans.

Monday's fatal shooting brings the number of homicides in Durham to 34 so far this year. Last year, there were 32 homicides; in 2003, there were 22 homicides.

Anyone with information about Monday night's shooting or Bass's whereabouts, is asked to contact the Durham Police Department at (919) 560-4440 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.


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