It took nearly three days for Durham police to identify a college student fatally shot by a security guard at his off-campus last week.
On Tuesday, police and others explained why.
Interviews with police and friends and family members of DeAndre Ballard indicate a false rumor and a lack of identification slowed the investigation into the 23-year-old’s death.
Around 10:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, Durham officers were dispatched to a gunshot wound call at Campus Crossings apartments, where they found a young man who died later at the hospital.
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It wasn’t until late Thursday that police identified Ballard and not until Monday, Sept. 25, that they released his name to the public.
What took so long, many have asked on social media?
Jalen Cooley, 24, said he dropped Ballad off and watched him enter his Campus Crossing apartment Sept. 17 after the two had watched a football game.
Later that week, Ballard’s roommates called Cooley looking for Ballard. They had found Ballard’s bedroom door held ajar by a shoe and his phone, identification and keys inside.
They had heard about a shooting, Cooley said, but the “rumor going around was that a security guard had been shot.”
“Ain’t no need to look into that,” Cooley said he and others initially thought.
Skylia Wright, 23, an NCCU graduate, said Ballard was involved in so many different activities that his roommates didn’t really think about him being gone.
“Then they realized his light was on, and the door was the same way” it had been since Monday, she said.
That is when they started to worry and made a missing person report Thursday, she said.
The roommates grew further concerned when they learned the person who had been shot hadn’t been identified, Wright said.
Ernisha Ballard, said she tried to call her son twice Thursday to remind him about appointments. One of his friends called her back and said they had his phone, but he was missing and they had reported it to police.
Meanwhile, police took DeAndre’s Ballard’s fingerprints, but his prints weren’t in the system, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said in an email. They also checked missing person reports.
“They shared a photo of the victim with all sworn Durham police officers to see if anyone recognized him, but the photos we had were not appropriate to be shared publicly,” Michael wrote. “They also showed the photo to NCCU police officers to see if they recognized him.”
When Ballard’s friends filed a missing person report around 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, police made the connection, Michael wrote.
Kevin Ladd, a vice-president at the N.C. Detective Agency, which provides security at Campus Crossings, said Ballard was barefoot in gym shorts and a tank top the night he was shot.
Wright said she and others are asking why Ballard went outside.
“There are just a lot of questions,” she said.
No charges have been filed, and Ladd has said an employee working as a guard at Campus Crossings shot Ballard in self-defense.
“In our eyes this is a tragic accident,” he said. “It never should have gotten to this, but our officer was fearful for his life.”
Ladd said that another security guard for the detective agency was a witness.
Both of the guards are black, he said.
Ladd said the guard involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave. The employee returned to work Monday night, but not at Campus Crossings.
Ladd said Tuesday his agency has received what he described as a death threat, which was reported to police.
In a statement Campus Crossings officials said: “The well being of our residents is always our top priority and we currently have 24-hour patrol services in place until further notice. We’re fully cooperating with authorities as they continue to investigate.”
Ernisha Ballard said her son was “terrified” of guns and they’d had numerous talks about staying safe when dealing with law enforcement. He wasn’t violent, and had never been in serious trouble, she and others said.
Wright described DeAndre Ballard as “the most humble, respectable, intelligent guy I have ever met.”
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.