Shaquille Oneill Davis, 22, was arrested and charged with attempted first degree murder, but all charges related to the shooting were dropped Feb. 16.
A vigil has been made outside the door of Tylena Williams, Maleah’s mother. Toys and prayer candles are all around, and a poster has been placed where friends, family and neighbors could write their goodbyes and regards to the happy child affectionately referred to as “Peanut.”
Sonya Rene Hernandez said the neighborhood was not violent and was improving. The streets were quieter and people were respecting each other more.
Hernandez, 45, is living off of disability benefits in Trinity Court.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said.
Maleah’s death has hit the tightknit community of Trinity Court hard. This public housing unit consists almost entirely of low-income minorities and refugees.
Jasmine Mitchell, 19, and a student at Durham Technical Community College, has lived in Trinity Court her entire life and grew up with the Williams family.
“Everyone thinks because it is public housing it’s dangerous, but no, it’s been very safe,” Mitchell said. “I’ve loved living here. Everyone is like family here, and it is a really nice community.”
But since the shooting, Mitchell said the community has gotten quieter and that there are significantly fewer loiterers and fewer people relaxing outside.
“Ironically, it feels safer,” she said.
Eh Paw is a 36-year-old Burmese refugee and has been a resident of Trinity Court for more than a year. A member of the Karen ethnic group, Paw fled the violence perpetrated by the military junta. Paw lived in one of the many refugee camps in Thailand before successfully applying for refugee status in the United States.
She said she did not expect to see this violence so near her new home.
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“Most of the children are too scared to go outside,” she said, remarking that she no longer lets her own children play outside, especially at night.
“It was scary (before the shooting), but it’s not like after. And my daughter said, ‘I don’t want to go outside,’ and I was so afraid,” Paw said.
While other residents said they are unafraid, others said they were unsure of what happens next.
“Every time I go outside, I remember the tragedy,” Hernandez said. “But you’re just left to pick up the pieces.”