Girl, 14, killed in shooting

A teenage girl was shot to death inside a car in northwest Charlotte on Tuesday, and police were tracking a suspect they believe got away on a public bus.

Officers identified the victim as 14-year-old Ashante Mayfield – the fifth homicide of someone under 18 in Charlotte this year. Ashante was riding in a car with at least two other girls who were uninjured.

The search continues this morning for 19-year-old Vanessa Hines, police's only suspect in the shooting. They described her as 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds. She had red braids and was wearing a red shirt and capri pants when last seen, officers said.

Police were also trying to locate a man who may have helped Hines get onto a CATS bus on Beatties Ford Road after the shooting. Witnesses said the suspect dropped a gun after the shooting, but police say it was gone when they arrived.

Authorities searched Tuesday evening without success for the suspect.

Police and neighbors say there was an argument between four or five young women on Catherine Simmons Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Police don't know what started the fight, but it ended when a woman fired several times into a late-1980s blue Toyota Camry.

The 14-year old was apparently the only person who was hit. She was transported to Carolinas Medical Center, where she died.

“It's another situation with kids and a gun,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Chief David Graham. “The victim is just 14, which is just sickening to us.”

The homicide was the 51st Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have investigated this year. The victims include 12-year-old Joshua Jackson, who was shot in February less than three miles down Beatties Ford Road from where Tuesday's shooting happened.

On Tuesday, dozens of people gathered to watch as officers and crime scene technicians snapped pictures and collected evidence. The shooting happened outside a group of apartment buildings known as The Commons.

“The area around here, they shoot all the time,” said Martin Hopkins, who lives nearby.

Anyone with information about Tuesday's shooting should call 704-432-8477.

Staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed.