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3 charged after 40 to 50 gunshots fired in uptown Charlotte, striking vehicles, hotel

kmsulliv@charlotteobserver.com

Three men were arrested Sunday after two vehicles and a hotel lobby were damaged in an uptown Charlotte shooting Sunday morning.
Three men were arrested Sunday after two vehicles and a hotel lobby were damaged in an uptown Charlotte shooting Sunday morning. WBTV

Three men in town for the CIAA tournament were arrested Sunday after they fired dozens of bullets into two vehicles and an uptown hotel and were found in possession of an AK-47, police said.

No one was reported injured during the early-morning gunfire, which happened around 4:40 a.m. near the Hyatt Place hotel.

The three charged are: Howard Kevin Wright, 32; Kevin Demetrius Thompson, 28; and Dereke Bolton, 34. Wright and Bolton both live in Memphis, according to records from the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office. Thompson lives in Elgin, S.C. The men were in town for the CIAA tournament, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokeswoman Officer Jessica Wallin said.

The city had declared the tournament an extraordinary event and called in a large contingent of city employees, including police officers. But the gunshots were fired around 4:45 a.m. Sunday, when crowds had thinned hours after bars and clubs closed.

Each of the men police say were involved has been charged with three counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling and discharging a firearm in city limits. Thompson and Wright were also charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Police haven’t given a motive in the shooting, or said who they believe the men may have been targeting when they fired from the Charlotte Government Center parking deck. The bullets hit a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and a red SUV parked behind it in front of the hotel lobby.

CMPD was called to the scene by a security guard working at the Charlotte Transit Center who heard gunshots near South Caldwell Street.

The guard saw a man running toward a Nissan Altima and took down the license plate number as the vehicle sped onto East Fourth Street.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers conducted a felony stop on the vehicle a few blocks away, in the 700 block of West Fifth Street. As officers approached, a passenger holding an AK-47 rifle jumped out of the back of the car and ran away.

Officers chased the man into a parking deck on Fifth Street and took him into custody.

The arrested man was later identified as Wright, according to a report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He was also carrying a pistol at the time of his arrest, the report said.

Two other occupants — Thompson and Bolton — were also arrested, and police seized two other weapons from the Altima. The weapons matched shell casings collected at the scene, according to CMPD’s report.

It was the second year in a row that police have had to contend with violence uptown during CIAA tournament weekend.

Last year, a woman was shot in the head but not seriously injured at the Label nightclub during tournament weekend. And two people were stabbed at the Oasis Tent on College Street. One man was charged in that stabbing.

In a press release summarizing safety and security during this year’s tournament and associated parties, the city deemed the tournament a success.

Other notes from tournament weekend:

▪ In addition to the trio arrested in connection with the shooting, CMPD arrested nine other people. Four were arrested on alcohol-related offenses, three were charged with simple assault and two were charged with trespassing.

▪ The Charlotte Fire Department and alcohol law enforcement officers checked more than 100 venues that advertised CIAA-related events. And the Fire Marshal’s office patrolled uptown and other locations to check safety precautions and monitor overcrowding. Several venues were cited and closed due to code violations, although city officials said specifics wouldn’t be made public until Monday.

▪ Nearly 100 city employees on 12 sanitation crews picked up refuse from 300 trash bags and 100 recycling containers. Most of the cleanup was completed by 11 a.m., city officials said.

Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms

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