Two days after 17-year-old Kydaryune Curry was shot to death on a northeast Mecklenburg street, police say they have arrested five suspects and identified a motive in his killing: disrespect.
The five teenage suspects in Curry’s killing were each charged with first-degree murder in the death of the high school junior, who went by “K.C.”
Police say the teens mobilized to fight Curry on Sunday after deciding he had shown one of them disrespect in front of a girl over the weekend. But one boy brought a gun, according to search warrants, and Curry was shot, bleeding to death along the same quiet street where neighbors frequently saw him tinkering with his souped-up BMW.
Charged with first-degree murder are: Bruck Birega Fekadu, 16; Sheldon Gregory, 17; Dedrick Lorenzo McKenzie, 16; Jeremy Elijah Pate, 19; and Samuel Jerome Walker Jr., 18. Police say Curry didn’t know the people accused of killing him.
All five suspects were in Mecklenburg jail late Tuesday. Search warrants identified McKenzie as the gunman in the evening shooting in Bradfield Farms, a subdivision near the Cabarrus County border.
Curry’s mother, Benita Turner, said the girl in question was a friend of Curry’s who also lived in the subdivision. Turner said K.C. and a friend were at the girl’s house Saturday when one of the teens later charged in his murder arrived. There was an argument in front of the girl, she said.
Curry’s mother said her son considered the incident so trivial that he didn’t bother to tell his family about it.
In interviews with police, three of the suspects said they went to fight Curry the day after the confrontation. The Sunday evening assault and shooting “caused the victim to bleed to an extent that Fekadu’s clothing had to be destroyed,” according to a search warrant. The suspects sped off in a red Ford Explorer.
Turner said her family was still coming to grips with her son’s death over a trivial adolescent dispute.
“For someone to say they felt disrespected over an act and then plot to kill my son is just senseless,” she said. “That’s saying respect is more important than my son’s life.”
Turner is engaged and was planning a wedding for Saturday. Gifts for the wedding party, inside pink and black bags, were laid out on the family’s dining room table Tuesday, forgotten as she talked about her son.
Curry was going to be one of the groomsmen. Now Turner says the wedding is on hold and she’s planning to send his body to Alabama for a funeral. The family moved to Charlotte from Alabama about five years ago.
On Monday, students at Charlotte United Christian Academy held an assembly in Curry’s honor, swapping stories about the 17-year-old and making cards for his family.
He was always laughing, those close to him told the Observer. He liked to play practical jokes. And when something needed fixing on his street in northern Mecklenburg County, he was willing to lend a hand.
“It’s a crazy, senseless thing,” said Mike Dunn, middle school principal at First Assembly Christian School in Concord, who coached Curry on the football team there last year.
Curry’s mother said he had recently switched out the clutch on his car. She added that he loved the National Hot Rod Association and considered going into the drag-racing industry. He had made inquiries at school in Charlotte and in other states.
‘He had his head on right’
“He was a good boy who had his head on right,” Turner said. “He was ready to graduate high school and conquer the world with all his big dreams.”
Fekadu and Pate had court appearances on Tuesday. A judge denied bond for Pate, and set Fekadu’s bond at $1 million. The others will make their first court appearances Wednesday.
Fekadu and McKenzie were enrolled as 10th-graders at East Mecklenburg High, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Gregory was a CMS student in the past but was not currently enrolled in the district, said CMS spokeswoman Kasia Thompson. It was unclear whether the other suspects had CMS connections.
Gregory’s grandmother, Willie Hardy, said investigators called her house late Monday, saying her son was a witness to a crime.
Hardy said she helped raise Gregory, and that he lived with her through his teens, but recently had been staying with his mother and stepfather.
“It really breaks my heart for a family to have lost someone and for my grandson to be anywhere around it, let alone (be charged) for murdering their son,” Hardy said, crying.
Suspects to be tried as adults
Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting said because the suspects are all over 16, they would be treated as adults in court.
If convicted of first-degree murder, the suspects over 18 could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Suspects under 18 who are convicted of first-degree murder are also sentenced to life in prison, but are entitled to a court hearing to determine whether they would be eligible for parole, Bunting said. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.