A newspaper carrier was found dead in the road and a second person was found wounded early Wednesday after shootings in a typically peaceful part of uptown near Romare Bearden Park.
The carrier was identified as Walter “Wes” Scott Jr., 65. He lived in Lancaster County, S.C., south of Charlotte.
Police are focusing their investigation on the 300 block of West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They are trying to determine the motive and whether the two shootings are related, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesman Rob Tufano said.
Scott worked delivering newspapers in uptown for more than 40 years and was under contract with a company that is also under contract to deliver The Charlotte Observer.
He told me he was a ‘lifer’ and that he’d probably deliver papers until the day he died. Those are haunting words now.
Scott Upright, Walter Scott Jr.’s boss
He delivered papers to sales racks and was apparently in the early part of his route at the time, having just left the warehouse around 2 a.m.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detectives said they received a call at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday about an assault with a deadly weapon in the 300 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They found Scott lying in the street with an apparent gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Medic.
Police said another man flagged down police near W. Martin Luther King Boulevard and Tryon Street and reported he had also been shot. He was taken by Medic to Carolinas Medical Center, where he is being treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound.
Scott Upright owns the company that delivers for the Observer, and he said Scott had played various roles in the newspaper delivery business for more than 40 years.
Upright said Scott was a father of four who also worked as an Advanced State Constable in South Carolina since 1998. State constables are certified law enforcement officers appointed by the governor and regulated by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division. Much of his constable work was done in York County, officials said.
He had studied at UNC Charlotte and attended Garinger High, according to his Facebook page.
Scott had turned 65 on Feb. 2, and had been thinking of retirement in the past week, Upright said.
“He finally decided against it,” Upright said. “He told me he was a ‘lifer’ and that he’d probably deliver papers until the day he died. Those are haunting words now.”
Gladys Shamblin, a retired Observer employee, said Scott was a familiar sight around the old Observer building. “He always had a smile, always was very encouraging,” she said.
Upright said Scott delivered papers to uptown hotels, shops and convenience stores. Scott normally started his day between 12:30 and 1 a.m., he said. One uptown Mellow Mushroom worker recalled seeing Scott in the restaurant on Tuesday dropping off papers.
Police had not given Upright details of what happened early Wednesday. Upright said Scott was known to wear his constable badge around his neck as he delivered papers. “He didn’t hide the fact of what he did during the day,” said Upright.
At the same time, Scott was not one to go looking for trouble, Upright added.
“At 3 in morning, there are only two types of people on the street: Those who are working and those who are up to no good,” he said. “I tell my carriers that, if they see someone who doesn’t look familiar, don’t even get out of the car. Just come back later.”
A 12th-floor resident of the nearby Catalyst, a highrise apartment building, said he was awakened about 2:15 a.m. by the sound of gunshots. The building is across the street from where Scott was found.
“It was five shots: three quick ones, then two more,” said the man, who has lived in the building only five months. He asked not to be identified. “I hope this doesn’t become a trend.”
This is Charlotte’s 11th homicide of the year; there were three in the city by this time last year, police said.
Representatives of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Homicide Prosecution Team, Special Investigations, Homicide Support Group, and Operations Command responded to the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to call 704-432-8477 to speak to a Homicide Unit detective or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
Staff writers Gavin Off and Fred Clasen-Kelly contributed.