No Arrest Yet for Girl Killed in Durham Drive-By, Memory Lives on Facebook

When I met with Shakanah China’s step-grandmother at her office in Durham, she said people are feeling a range of emotions.

Shakanah China was fatally shot May 10 in a drive-by in Durham.Angry because Shakanah, 13, was shot to death in a drive-by, and no one has been arrested and charged with the crime; grateful because bullets missed others standing outside 7 Atka Court in Durham on May 10.

“Everyone was outside,” said Annette Carrington, the step-grandmother. “It was a warm day."

Around 7:30 p.m., a green van rolled down Rochelle Street. As the vehicle approached Atka Court, someone inside the van fired several shots.

“The first or second one nipped her thumb and the third one shot her in the chest,” said Carrington, a program manager and health educator for Durham County. 

Shakanah was taken to Duke University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez has said she was not the intended target, and investigators have asked the public for information about a fight that reportedly occured on Atka Court earlier in the week of the homicide. 

Police announced a Durham CrimeStoppers reward in July for information leading to an arrest, but four months after the shooting, the murder remains unsolved. 

“Shakanah’s death made national headlines and after that death, there’s nothing,” Carrington said. “You don’t have follow-up reports or anything.”

Shakanah was a special girl, she said.This is an excerpt from the profile for Shakanah China on Facebook, created after her death. The latest post, as of this writing, is from September 15: "see youu real soon KANAH :) -- gone but never forgotten."

She loved the cell phone she got for Christmas, enjoyed getting her hair braided and played with stuffed animals. Shakanah was also serious about her future. She enrolled in “Together Everyone Accomplishes Something,” a teen pregnancy prevention program that Carrington helps manage for the county. For nine months, teens are taught life skills and perform community service. Shakanah had one month left.

“That’s an indication she wanted to stay on track,” Carrington said.

On Facebook, a public profile has been created in Shakanah’s name with 1,325 people following it as of this writing. The first post on the Facebook wall came three days after her death, and it reads, “senseless acts takes [sic] away lives.” Someone replied, “Especially the innocent ones who havnt [sic] even begun to live their life.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Durham Police Investigator Pate at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29332 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases. Callers do not have to identify themselves.

Ride-Along With the Durham Police HEAT Team

A man is treated on Holloway Street in Durham for wounds after he was struck in the head with a gun on July 8. Photo by Leanora Minai.

In July, I rode with Robert Gaddy, sergeant of the Durham Police Department's High Enforcement Abatement Team (HEAT) for District 1.

He and other officers on the team enforce "matters of drugs, narcotics, vice-related issues," Gaddy said. "We also do gang enforcement, as well as prevention and education." 

After a traffic stop, an officer tests bills for the presence of heroin. Photo by Leanora Minai.

Within moments of my ride, Gaddy pulled behind a fellow Durham police officer's cruiser to assist with a traffic stop. Before I could adjust the settings on my video camera, Gaddy had hopped from our car. He ran to help a fellow officer prevent the motorist from swallowing drugs. Police recovered "nickel bags" of marijuana from the car. Officers tested cash, and it came back positive for the presence of heroin. The motorist went to jail, and a tow truck pulled his car from the scene.

Soon after that stop, we drove toward Edgemont Park, where people were loitering and drinking in the pavilion. I got an education in gang graffiti. "Rollin 60," reportedly representing the Crips, marked a picnic table, pavilion post and ceiling. 

A Durham police officer points to "RSC," which stands for Rollin' Sixty Crip. Photo by Leanora Minai.

Gang culture won't play prominently in my short film, but I found the sights relevant and important to observe.  

Lights and sirens ended my ride with Gaddy. The police radio in the car crackled with a call of a shooting on Holloway Street near Chester Street.

Turned out, the man wasn't shot. Someone hit him in the back of the head with a blunt object, possibly a pistol. It was aggravated assault.

Over a radio.