3rd Charlotte teen arrested in killing of college athlete in online sales conspiracy

Zachary Finch, who pitched for his college baseball team, was fatally shot in Charlotte on June 18.
Zachary Finch, who pitched for his college baseball team, was fatally shot in Charlotte on June 18. jwester@charlotteobserver.com

A third teenager has been charged in connection with the killing of a college baseball player who was shot while responding to an online sales app in Charlotte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have charged Demonte McCain, 17, with murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery.

He and two 15-year-olds are accused of killing Zachary Joseph Finch on June 18 in the 2300 block of Farmer Street in southwest Charlotte. Names of the two 15-year-olds have not been released because of their age, officials said.

Investigators did not say what led them to identify McCain as a suspect in the case.

Finch was killed while responding to an online sales app similar to Craigslist, officials said. Finch, 21, pitched for Kentucky’s University of the Cumberlands. He was on a full scholarship with the program, family members said. Finch’s family said he was studying public health, with one year left to go before graduation.

His parents moved to the Charlotte area from south Florida a couple of years ago, and their three children attended college in different states, family members said.

Officers arrived at the shooting scene to find Finch lying on the ground in the front yard of an apartment. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Farmer Street is off Clanton Road in southwest Charlotte, close to Barringer Elementary School.

Finch was attempting to buy a cellphone when he was shot, police said. The meeting to sell the phone was set up through an online application called Letgo. Police said Finch did not know the people he was meeting.

Robbery was the motive of the three teens, and there is no evidence a fight or any type of need to defend themselves prompted the shooting, investigators said.

Publicity around the killing prompted the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to announced weeks ago that it was creating “safe exchange areas” where Charlotte residents can handle sales made via internet apps.

Cities, counties and towns that have established such safe areas include Huntersville, Kannapolis, Carthage, Southern Pines, Cary, Apex, Durham County, Garner, Morrisville, Orange County and Wake Forest in North Carolina and North Charleston, Beaufort and Bluffton in South Carolina.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-8477 and speak to a homicide unit detective. The public can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or visit the Crime Stoppers mobile app website at charlottecrimestoppers.com/.