Durham’s first homicide in 2018 unfolded in the middle of the day in a busy parking lot in a shopping center off N.C. 55.
“That is what is the surprising part,” said Ron Brewer, service manager of Colonial Tire & Automotive, which is in the shopping center.
Darelle Marquis Harper, 31, of Durham, died in the Triangle Village Shopping Center’s parking lot after being shot, according to police. Officers responded to the shooting near the intersection of N.C. 54 and N.C. 55 just after noon Tuesday.
The shooting spilled from a gray four-door car that was parked in front of the tire center, according to employees, who said they heard two gunshots.
Brewer didn’t hear the shots but he saw three people running from the gray car, he said. Two women ran toward the store’s door. Harper ran in front of the tire center and collapsed by a window.
“It was like he was having a heart attack or he was choking on something,” Brewer said. “I didn’t know he was shot.”
Brewer said he saw a little bit of blood, but he thought it was from Harper’s fall.
Brewer called 911 and tried to do CPR.
“I told them that there was a man who had fallen in the parking lot,” Brewer said. “He was unresponsive. His eyes were rolled back into his head. He was gasping for air.”
He later learned that the man had been shot in the middle of his throat.
Another person at the tire store told Brewer that she saw another man get out of the gray car, shoot through the window of the gray car and then jump in a light blue car.
The city’s first homicide last year was on Jan. 12. There were 24 criminal homicides out of a total of 28 killings in the city in 2017 and one in Durham County.
Brewer, 60, said shootings and other violent crimes are the main reason he moved from northern Durham to Sanford in November. He was concerned about burglaries and constantly hearing gunshots.
“We lived in a fairly good neighborhood, but it was just all around us,” Brewer said. “You could just hear it all the time.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Durham police at 919-560-4440, ext. 29414 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.