Charlotte-Mecklenburg police continued searching for the men who fatally shot the 14-year-old son of a Kannapolis police officer in northeast Charlotte, a crime that left the Cabarrus County department “heartbroken.”
Anthony Frazier died at Carolinas Medical Center Tuesday, becoming the city’s third homicide victim of 2017.
In a statement Wednesday, Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis said his approximately 100-person department “is heartbroken over the loss of one of our family members, especially as Anthony was just beginning his teenage years.”
In fact, he had turned 14 on the day before Christmas. His father, Daniel Frazier, has been an officer with Kannapolis for less than two years, the city said.
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“Our families are the backbone of our department and without them we could not survive,” Chavis stated. “We are stunned that once again a senseless tragedy has impacted the lives of our children and our officers.”
Anthony Frazier was visiting family in Charlotte when he was shot Monday night in a vehicle in the 2200 block of Finchley Drive, then driven to a gas station in the 900 block of Eastway Drive to seek help, CMPD said.
The teen and his aunt were pulling into a home on Finchley Drive, near Eastway Drive, around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday when they spotted two young men hiding in the bushes, WSOC-TV reported. The men ran, then one turned around and fired several shots, hitting Frazier while he was in the backseat of the car, sources told the station.
The aunt drove to the 7-Eleven on Eastway Drive, less than a mile away, to call for help, the station reported.
A $5,000 reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers. Callers can remain anonymous on the tip line, 704-334-1600. People also may call police at 704-432-8477.
Police are asking for help in identifying two males in their teens to early 20s suspected of being involved in the shooting.
One wore a gray hoodie and the other a dark hoodie. Both are thin and may also frequent the Shamrock Drive and Eastway Drive corridors, police said. Police have not said if Frazier was the intended target or what led to the violence.
CMPD did not provide updates on the case Wednesday.
‘Nothing got him down’
A candlelight vigil is being planned at Kannapolis Middle School for Frazier, who was in eighth grade there. The vigil will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the school’s track.
Counselors were at the school Wednesday to help students or staff, Kannapolis City Schools spokeswoman Ellen Boyd said. “He was obviously very loved,” she said at the school. “They are taking it very hard but they also are there for each other.”
Jerold Griggs was Frazier’s basketball coach for the past two years, and said the teen did as well academically as he did with sports. Frazier also played football and ran track.
Griggs said classes were “real quiet” Wednesday as students absorbed what had happened.
On the basketball team, Griggs said, Frazier was an eager participant with a positive attitude who couldn’t wait for practice, and won a coach’s award last year for being one of the most coachable players.
“Nothing got him down,” Griggs said.
In fact, Frazier made it a point to stick his head in Griggs’ classroom between periods to ask how the coach was doing. “It helped me if I was having a bad day,” Griggs said. “He always had a smile on his face and that positive demeanor.”
Frazier’s dad was an assistant basketball coach last year, and his mom and younger sister would be in the stands cheering on the team, said Griggs as he praised the family.
Frazier also was in the Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS) program, which works with students in Cabarrus County and Kannapolis schools, focusing on strengthening leadership skills and community engagement, reported Observer news partner WBTV.
“He’s an awesome young man and a treasure. We’re hurting a lot over this,” STARS facilitator Brandon Miller told WBTV.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for an “Anthony Frazier Memorial Fund” by Lock Whiteside. He’s a family friend who attended Freedom High in Morganton with Frazier’s parents, who were high school sweethearts.
Whiteside is a teacher in Atlanta now, and said he wanted to be able to do something from afar once he learned what had happened. The site had raised $3,150 by Wednesday afternoon. Friends, family and law enforcement members were among those making donations.
Whiteside’s message on the site stated, “Now is the time to come together as a community and show support for Daniel, Brandi and their entire family.”
People may also drop off cash or checks at the Kannapolis police station at 401 Laureate Way to help with funeral expenses, city spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller said. Checks may be made out to “City of Kannapolis.”
‘Take this community back’
The shooting took place in Eastwood Acres, a 70-year-old neighborhood of modest one-story homes near Garinger High.
Diane Garris, president of the Eastwood Acres Community Association, has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years. She has seen it transition from a peaceful neighborhood of starter homes to a place besieged by gangs and crime.
But in the past 10 years, she said, the community has begun to prosper again. More residents are pulling together to improve the neighborhood. The community association has obtained two city grants to organize and beautify the neighborhood. And crime has declined markedly.
So Tuesday’s shooting was “devastating,” Garris said.
“You just don’t know what a kick in the teeth this is,” said Garris, who lives next door to the house where the crime occurred.
“Our hearts go out to this family, and to this young man’s friends,” Garris said. “We want to let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Now, though, Garris hopes the episode will spur more neighbors to get involved. “I hope more than anything, what will come of this tragedy is that people will come together and say, ‘We’re going to take this community back. We’re not going to stand for it.’ ”
Chris Poole, who lives across the street from the shooting scene, has also seen his neighbors show more pride in their community.
Years ago, he said, many neighbors would have been afraid to come to their front doors when a stranger knocked. That’s no longer the case, he said. Like other neighbors, Poole is rattled by the tragedy. But he hopes it will bring something positive.
“Hopefully, it will make us reach out to each other more,” he said.
Observer researcher Maria David contributed