Security firm says shooting of NCCU student was self-defense. Mother questions story

Durham police have identified a man found fatally shot in Durham on Sept 18, 2018, as DeAndre Marquise Ballard, 23, a student at N.C. Central University.
Durham police have identified a man found fatally shot in Durham on Sept 18, 2018, as DeAndre Marquise Ballard, 23, a student at N.C. Central University. NCCU

Durham police are investigating the fatal shooting of an N.C. Central University student last week by a security guard at an off-campus apartment complex.

On Monday police identified the student as DeAndre Marquise Ballard, 23.

Officers responded to a call about a gunshot wound at 10:15 p.m. Sept. 17 in the 1400 block of East Cornwallis Road. They found Ballard, who was taken to a local hospital where he died.

“The case remains under investigation,” police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said Monday. “No charges have been filed at this time.”

In an interview, Kevin Ladd, vice president of the N.C. Detective Agency, said an employee working as a guard at Campus Crossings apartments shot Ballard in self-defense.

“We fully, 100 percent stand by his actions because this was self-defense,” Ladd said. “In our eyes this is a tragic accident. It never should have gotten to this, but our officer was fearful for his life.”

WRAL first reported that Ballard was shot by a security guard.

The shooting occurred in a public area at the apartment complex, he said, and there is one witness who is also a security guard, Ladd said. The security guard and witness are black, Ladd said.

A statement on NCCU’s website said the shooting occurred near Ballard’s off-campus apartment. The guard involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave for a week, but returned to work at a different site on Monday, Ladd said.

The N.C. Detective Agency has been in business since 1996.

The employee has worked for the agency for 15 years and is certified by the N.C. Private Protective Security Board, Ladd said.

“We have never had anything like this, “ Ladd said. “We feel terrible about it. Our officer feels terrible.”

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‘Terrified’ of guns

Ballard’s mother, Ernisha Ballard, said what she has been told so far doesn’t make sense.

Her son was “terrified” of guns, she said, and they’d had numerous talks about staying safe when dealing with law enforcement.

DeAndre Ballard was a “happy-go-lucky person,” she said. He made As and Bs in school and had never been in any kind of major trouble.

“He was very spiritual,” she said. “He loved God. He loved his friends, and he loved his family.”

Jalen Cooley, 24, a friend of DeAndre Ballard and an NCCU graduate student, said he dropped Ballard off and watched him walk into his apartment around 10 p.m. Sept. 17. They had watched a football game, and DeAndre had said he was tired and ready to go home.

“He was going to sleep,” Cooley said. “He asked me three or four times. ‘Take me home I have class at 8 o’clock.’ ”

Cooley said that Ballard was always smiling, laughing and looking to learn more.

“He loved knowledge,” Cooley said. “He loved learning.”

Another roommate told Ballard’s mother, she said, that they found the door to her son’s room open, with a shoe in the door. He left everything, including his keys and identification, in his room, she said, like he had just stepped out for a moment.

Ernisha Ballard said police told her the security guard said he saw her son trying to get into people’s cars.

Then he got into the security guard’s car on the passenger side and started trying to fight the guard, Ballard said she was told. Then he got out of the passenger side, and tried to grab the guard’s gun and the gun went off. She was told that he was shot about 10:15 p.m.

“There is no way. I don’t even buy that,” she said.

“I just don’t understand,” she continued. “I just want answers to what has happened to my baby. I want somebody to tell the truth. I am hoping justice will be done.”

‘Sudden loss’

A native of New Bern, N.C., Ballard was preparing to graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education, NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye said on the university’s website. He was a member of NCCU’s Bon Vivant Fashion Society and was Mr. Bon Vivant Fashion Society last school year.

“Naturally, this sudden loss impacts his family greatly, as well as his many friends, his roommates and the entire NCCU community,” Akinleye said. “I ask that we stand together in solidarity during this difficult time and collectively keep DeAndre Ballard and his loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.”

As of Sept. 15, there had been 21 homicides in Durham, according to the Police Department website, up from 15 by the same time in 2017 but down from 28 by the same time in 2016.

All told, as of Sept. 15 reported violent crime in Durham was down 16.9 percent this year.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator E. Ortiz at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29337 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Mark Schultz: 919-829-8950; @HeraldSunEditor
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