A couple visiting Charlotte for a night on the town met with violence early Thursday, when an armed man forced them into an alley near the Charlotte Convention Center, bound the man and sexually assaulted both, police say.
Their assailant robbed them of their personal belongings, including clothing, police said.
A suspect is in custody – a teenager – and court records show it’s his fifth arrest since 2015.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they were called at 1:45 a.m Thursday about the assault, which happened in the 200 block of East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That block is bordered by the light rail on one side and is surrounded by uptown’s most popular restaurants, hotels and the convention center.
Police said the suspect surprised the couple on the sidewalk as they walked back to their hotel. The man showed a gun and forced them into a nearby alley, where the assaults took place, police said.
Police did not give a specific location for the alley and are not releasing where the victims are from.
After the assailant left, police said, the pair freed themselves and ran to a hotel in the 500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for help.
They were able to give a good description of a suspect, police said. And an arrest was made at 3:30 a.m. after a man fitting the suspect’s description was spotted by officers at Trade and Tryon streets.
A gun found at the scene had been reported stolen days earlier from a vehicle during a prior crime, police said.
The suspect, Tevin Quayshawn Williams, 19, is charged with kidnapping, first degree forcible rape, first degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a stolen fire arm and first degree trespassing.
Records indicate Williams served a year in prison for common law robbery and got out in August 2016.
Capt. Dave Johnson of CMPD said he can’t remember any case like this happening uptown. “It’s a heinous crime,” he said. “It’s particularly disturbing.”
Johnson speculated Williams was still close to the scene of the incident two hours later because he didn’t have access to a vehicle. “We think that probably since his release from prison he’s been hanging around, just kind of laying his head where he can. Possibly homeless.”
Records show it is Williams’ fifth arrest in Mecklenburg County since 2015, and he also appears to have been arrested in Concord in 2014.
He was charged in 2015 with common law robbery and felony conspiracy. He was arrested twice more that year, and again for probation violation in 2016.
Williams was found guilty in the past of assault and battery, simple assault, domestic violence and common law robbery, state records show.
Court records dating back to 2014 show him living at addresses in Concord, Albemarle and most recently Charlotte. The address he gave to the court while living in Albemarle appears to have been for a residential behavioral health/mental health facility for children and teens.
The incident marks the second time this year that a typically quiet part of uptown has been the scene of violence, and the earlier incident was also on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
On April 15, Walter “Wes” Scott Jr., 65, was shot at 2:20 a.m. while delivering newspapers to a convenience store near Romare Bearden Park, on West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Scott exchanged shots with the assailant before he died, wounding suspect Roger Best.
Best, 22, is now charged with murder. The two cases, only blocks apart, are making some uptown business owners and patrons uneasy.
“I usually feel pretty safe, but hearing things like this makes you think twice,” said a customer outside the 7-11 store near Romare Bearden Park, who asked not to be named.
The police division encompassing uptown saw a small overall increase in violent crime in the first three months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.
Though the number of rapes in the area declined from five in 2016 to three in 2017, aggravated assaults involving a firearm increased sharply, from 19 in 2016 to 33 in 2017.
Maria David and Matt Kaminer contributed to this story.