Police arrest NC rapper Lil Tony in fatal drive-by shooting of 9-year-old Z’Yon Person

Durham police investigators have arrested a 24-year-old man in the fatal drive-by shooting of 9-year-old Z’Yon Person, whose August death renewed debate about how to fight gun violence in the city.

Antonio Nathaniel “Lil Tony” Davenport Jr. was charged Tuesday morning at the Durham County jail, where he was already being held on charges from a prior domestic violence case, according to police.

Davenport is charged with first-degree murder, felony conspiracy to commit murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, five counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied property causing serious injury and three counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle/residence.

Davenport is part of the Durham rap group 83 Babies, according to multiple websites. The group has 136,000 followers on Instagram.

The arrest followed an investigation by the Police Department’s Homicide Unit and the FBI’s Raleigh Durham Safe Streets Task Force, which includes officers from the Durham Police Department and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

“I would like to announce an arrest in the case of yet another senseless act of violence … in this incident, taking the innocent life of 9-year-old Z’Yon Person,” Police Chief C.J. Davis said in a statement. “Our officers and investigators, with support from concerned and engaged community members, will continue the fight against gun violence in our city.”

Z’Yon would have turned 10 years old this Saturday, his grandmother said.

Other criminal charges

In 2016, Davenport was convicted of second-degree burglary, felony larceny and misdemeanor speeding to elude arrest, according to an N.C. Department of Public Safety website.

He also has pending charges from three incidents in 2019, according to court documents.

AntonioDavenport (1_fitted.jpeg
Antionia Davenport

He is charged with assault on a female and interfering with emergency communications in Wake County from a June 17 incident.

He is charged with second degree kidnapping, misdemeanor child abuse, and possession of firearm by a felon from June 28 incident in Durham County.

And he also is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, breaking and entering to terrorize, assault on a female and communicating threats from an April 19 incident.

Shots fired into SUV

Z’Yon’s aunt, Danyell Ragland, was taking him, his sister and three cousins for snow cones at Pelican’s SnowBalls just before 9 p.m. Aug. 18 when someone in a burgundy Honda Accord fired shots into the SUV, The News & Observer previously reported.

Z’Yon was shot in the head and fell into his 11-year-old sister’s lap, his grandmother, Sandra Person, told The News & Observer. His 8-year-old cousin was shot in the arm.

Z’Yon, a rising fourth-grader at Penny Road Elementary School, died the next day.

Person said Tuesday that she still has many unanswered questions, including the motive for the shooting.

“I am happy about them getting someone, but I know there is more people involved in this,” Person said. “This is just like the tip of the iceberg. We just need justice for Z’Yon, to know why his life was taken so early.”

On Saturday, Person said, the family still plans to celebrate Z’Yon’s birthday with a party, cake and gifts. His family also plans to go to the N.C. State Fair, like they do every year on his birthday.

“We are going to have a celebration,” she said.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with further information is asked to call investigators at 919-560-4440, ext. 29284 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.

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