Crime & Courts

2 Charlotte teens now charged with murder in college student’s death

Charges against two Charlotte teenagers have been upgraded to murder in the killing of a 21-year-old Western Carolina University student near the school’s campus in Cullowhee.

Jacob Ray of Hendersonville was shot in the back of his head on Oct. 6, according to a Go Fund Me page that has raised $8,700 for his family to cover Ray’s medical and funeral costs. Ray’s family took him off life support at Mission Hospital three days later, Asheville-area media outlets reported.

Aja Makalo, a 19-year-old female, and Zavion Southerland, a 17-year-old male, were originally charged with attempted murder. Police have now upgraded the charge to murder, Asheville ABC-TV affiliate WLOS reported Wednesday.

Makalo is a Western Carolina University student, while Southerland is not affiliated with the school, according to the station.

Western Carolina University Police have not released a motive for the shooting.

Ray was a junior studying computer information systems, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak