A 19-year-old pregnant woman sleeping on a couch was shot and killed Wednesday morning when someone fired into her apartment in a section of west Charlotte that has been plagued by violent crime for decades, police say.
Police identified the victim as Ondrea Japonica Stevenson. Stevenson, who was 13 weeks pregnant, was apparently the only person in the room when someone fired four bullets through a window of the apartment just off West Boulevard, not far from Charlottes airport.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police investigators say four other women and three children were inside the apartment when the shots were fired, but only Stevenson was struck.
The shooting at Little Rock Apartments was the most recent act of violence in a section of Charlotte that gained notoriety when two officers were fatally shot in 1993.
High police-call area
Since 2005, CMPD has responded to more than 1,700 calls from nearby streets, though some reports of crime went unfounded. Callers reported more than 480 assaults, 100 drug violations, 33 robberies and four homicides, police data show.
In 2011, crime dropped significantly after the Charlotte Housing Authority razed Boulevard Homes, which is adjacent to Little Rock Apartments. The 300-unit Boulevard Homes was a low-income development where 93 percent of residents received food stamps and 14 percent had dropped out of high school.
Through November of this year, police responded to 97 calls, down from a high of 334 in 2006, data show. About a quarter of this years calls involved minor assaults.
A city plan to replace Boulevard Homes with a 334-housing unit educational village entered the construction phase last year. Signs of construction could be seen as police officers continued their homicide investigation on Wednesday.
An innocent bystander?
A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Stevensons mother said the family had nothing to report and hung up.
Police have not disclosed whether Stevenson was the target of the shooter. Neighbors told the Observer that Stevensons killer may have been looking for the father of her child.
She was an innocent bystander, said one woman, who declined to give her name because the shooter had not been caught.
The woman said Stevenson had been staying at the home for about three months, though it was unclear how she was connected to the other people who live there. A woman who answered the door at the apartment declined to comment.
Several people were gathered on couches and chairs inside the apartment. Drying blood could be seen on the white tile floor.
A friend described Stevenson as a gregarious, funny young woman, who often tried to cheer up those close to her.
We were in middle school, and we had a keyboarding class early in the morning together, and we would be in there laughing and joking, said Sarathel Petty, 19, recalling when she met Stevenson at Sedgefield Middle School.
Thats what made me keep her close. ... She was always looking out for everybody, trying to make them smile. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.