Durham County

McDougald Terrace residents tired of living in a place where 7-year-olds witness shootings

Four-year-old Karmello Mitchell didn’t talk for two days last year after someone was shot dead near where he and his sister had been playing.

“All the other kids were running,” Jaquana Mitchell said of the shooting in the courtyard behind her and her children’s McDougald Terrace apartment. “He went and hid on somebody’s porch. And then he was scared to leave off the porch.”

Myasia Mitchell, Karmello’s 7-year-old sister, saw the shooting and the blood that followed.

“Someone in a red hat, he shot at the boy. The boy tried to go under the car,” she said. “My heart was beating really fast.”

On Friday morning Karmello and Myasia, a rising second-grader, were still in bed when gunfire again erupted in their backyard and another man was killed.

Durham police said Carl Suitt Jr., 27, of Durham was fatally shot about 6 a.m. Neighbors said they heard people talking and then heard gunshots in a parking lot behind the Mitchells’ apartment.

Officers found the man in a courtyard between two of the two-story brick McDougald Terrace buildings between Dayton and Wabash streets. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said.

The shooting happened a short distance from where police fatally shot Frank Clark in November. Clark had fired a gun at police, according to state and local investigations.

In May 2016, officers responded to a shooting in the same part of the public housing community and found 33-year-old Kevin Bowling dead.

‘A scary place’

Neighbors say they are fed up with the killings and the gunshots.

“This is a scary place,” said 73-year-old Margaret Sutton who thought she was dreaming when the shots rang out Friday morning.

But she wasn’t surprised when she realized they were real.

“This place is bad,” she said. “Nobody cares.”

Yolanda Hodge, 26, said people are tired of seeing the yellow crime scene tape after shootings.

Since she moved into McDougald Terrace about two years ago, her apartment has been shot at three times.

“The last shooting went over me and my 3-year-old’s head, literally,” she said. “If I would have stood up (from the couch), I would have got touched.”

Hodge is glad that school is out, she said, and no one was walking to the bus before and after the Friday morning shooting.

Cereal and milk

A few yards away from the crime scene Friday, some McDougald Terrace residents were trying to give kids in the neighborhood a place to get away from the investigators marking gun casings, blood droplets and other evidence.

Moms on a Mission, a group of about dozen residents, opened a food bank and clothing closet in one of the complex’s apartments earlier month despite the fact that a thief stole some of their supplies and ransacked the place in May.

On Friday morning they served cereal and milk for breakfast and quesadillas and apple sauce for lunch to about 30 kids.

“We try to be here to open this up and try to take their minds off all the negative,” said member Ashley Canady, president of the resident council. “Through it all, we are going to stand up.”

After the shooting last year, Karmello was too terrified to speak, his mother said.

“When he did talk it was because he heard another gunshot outside, and he was like ‘They killing that boy again,’” Mitchell said. “I was like once you kill somebody, baby, you can’t kill him again.

“But he didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to go outside at all.”

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges