Charlotte-Mecklenburg police were still saying little Saturday about what triggered the shooting deaths of three men – two of them brothers – found in a house near Pineville.
The three men, apparently celebrating the 30th birthday of one of the victims, were found shot to death Friday morning. Police said preliminary evidence suggests that the shootings were not random.
Police identified the two brothers as Naquavis Aqueece Benson, 29, and Jarvis Mandrell Benson, 38. They were at the house of the third victim, Javarius Deshawn McGee, who turned 30 on Thursday.
Police did not say whether they were looking for suspects. About 10:30 a.m. Friday, they were called to a house in the 9500 block of China Grove Church Road in the Sterling community near Pineville, where they found three bodies with gunshot wounds. Medic pronounced all three dead at the scene.
The home is near Sterling Elementary School.
As officers scoured the area for witnesses, two women who appeared to be family members were seen wailing outside the home.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney was among the dozens of officers at the scene.
“It is an active investigation and very fluid,” police spokesman Rob Tufano said shortly before noon.
Koketa Hood, the Benson brothers’ aunt and a Charlotte preschool teacher, quickly left her job Friday and rushed to the scene.
She said the brothers grew up in Lancaster, S.C. Naquavis Benson lived in Charlotte, where he was a culinary student who wanted “to do something different with his life.” She last saw him on Thanksgiving showing off his culinary skills smoking and deep frying turkeys and making desserts that “melted in your mouth.”
Relatives said Naquavis Benson had been shot before and was told by doctors he’d be paralyzed. Instead, he walked with a limp. They described the brothers as lively and funny. “They were always together,” said Shanta Montgomery, a cousin.
All three victims had run-ins with the law, South Carolina court records show. Naquavis Benson served prison time for trafficking ecstacy two years ago, and was given probation on unlawfully carrying a pistol in 2005, records show.
Mandrell Benson was convicted of drugs and weapons charges and McGee was found guilty of two drug charges, records show.
The brothers had recently lost a friend in Lancaster to gunfire. “They were trying to get away from Lancaster to get away from the mess,” said Stacie Coleman, another aunt.
Friday’s incident shook the Sterling community, where friends and relatives gathered and wept at the only church in the neighborhood.
David Scott Cunningham, pastor of China Grove AME Zion Church, said he did not know the family or victims. But when he learned of the shooting, he and several members gathered to counsel the grieving.
“We want to be part of the healing process,” he said.
Carolyn Straite, who said she grew up in the neighborhood, called the area a “loving community” where neighbors knew and took care of each other.
Police encouraged anyone with information about the shootings to call 704-432-TIPS (8477) to speak directly with a homicide detective. Or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Staff photographer Davie Hinshaw and researcher Maria David contributed.