Police officers spent much of Tuesday walking the hilly Springfield neighborhood in southwest Charlotte, reassuring residents and searching for leads after two fatal shootings happened less than three hours apart there over Labor Day weekend.
Officers hoped a neighborhood meeting scheduled for Wednesday would help them learn more about the shootings, which claimed the lives of a 30-year-old woman sitting on a porch and a 7-year-old who was visiting his cousin’s home for a birthday party. In all, five people were fatally shot in Charlotte over the holiday weekend.
On Tuesday, a stuffed teddy bear and other toys marked the spot under the tree where shootings left young Kevin Calderon Rodas dead and injured two others on Fieldvale Place about 9 p.m. Saturday night. Police vehicles could be seen parked where Laquanta Franchez Young, 30, was killed about three hours later in a drive-by shooting.
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Some neighbors were alarmed by the killings in their community, which has seen a decrease in crime in the last decade. Others were outraged that more people haven’t gone to police with information about the killings. No one has been arrested in either case.
Among the outraged was Juan Wilson, who lives two doors from where Kevin was killed. Wilson was the cousin of Young, who was killed five blocks away on Echodale Drive, a key street used to enter Springfield.
Wilson said he was at work when the shootings happened Saturday night, but his youngest daughter was home. Frightened, she called him at work, told him of the shooting, and the two stayed on the phone until he reached the driveway.
“What’s really bad is nobody is talking,” Wilson said. “Nobody seems to know anything. Or at least they aren’t saying anything. That’s the tough part to get my head around. Somebody has to know something.”
Kevin lived off Albemarle Road in east Charlotte with his mother. But on Saturday, he was attending a family member’s birthday party on Fieldvale Place, said his 11-year-old cousin, Cristian.
The Rodases have a large extended family that lives in Charlotte, and many had gathered at the home on Fieldvale Place. The family has roots in Honduras, although Kevin was born in Mecklenburg County in February 2008. Neighbors said the Rodases were polite but had gatherings that grew too loud.
On Saturday, 15 to 20 people had gathered for a 2-year-old’s birthday party. The shooting happened just as a piñata was busted open, spilling candy in the front yard.
Police said the shooters may have entered the dead-end street from woods that border E.E. Waddell Language Academy. Neighbors say the shots appeared to come from a home across the street, whose steep driveway would give the shooters an unobstructed view of the party below.
A fence at the rear of the empty property was knocked down, neighbors say, giving easy access to the next street.
Another neighbor said she was sitting on her porch watching the party the night of the shooting.
“I went in for just a minute, and when I heard the shooting, I came out and heard a lady screaming. Then a man was screaming. They were all screaming and hollering,” she said.
“This is a quiet neighborhood. I’ve been living here 40 years, and now I’m worried. I think we’re all nervous, because nothing like this has ever happened before. We’re frightened. This is not a neighborhood where you see strangers, unless someone is making a U-turn.”
Police ask anyone with information about this weekend’s killings to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Tipsters are eligible for rewards for information that leads to an arrest. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said rewards have been doubled for tips about last weekend’s killings.
Police also will hold a Springfield community meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Ebenezer Pentecostal Church, 100 Ann Marie Drive.
Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Community raises money for victim’s funeral
A Go Fund Me site established to help with the funeral expenses of 7-year-old shooting victim Kevin Antonio Calderon Rodas surpassed its $3,000 goal at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday and had raised more than $4,500 later that evening.
Kevin died when several people opened fire Saturday night when a piñata broke during a 2-year-old girl’s birthday party in the front yard of a house on Fieldvale Place, in the Springfield subdivision off Nations Ford Road. Two other people were injured.