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Trinity Court still reeling from Christmas Day tragedy

Trinity Court has become extremely quiet after the Christmas Day shooting of 1-year-old Maleah Williams
Trinity Court has become extremely quiet after the Christmas Day shooting of 1-year-old Maleah Williams

A car drove down the neighborhood’s parking lot, turned around and drove up a hill where it parked. At approximately 5:43 p.m., a man inside the car then began spraying bullets into the yard below, in the direction of the playing children.

The 911 calls reveal the witnesses’ shock and confusion.

“Please hurry up,” said one female caller repeatedly through her tears.

A male caller could barely get out the address of the shooting while saying, “Oh my God,” continuously and yelling expletives.

Another caller could be heard screaming on the phone upon discovering the shooting victim was an infant.

One-year-old Maleah Williams was an infant who was fatally wounded that day. She died three days later, Dec. 28, at UNC Hospitals.

As pictures of the wide-eyed young girl with the big smile began to spread throughout the media, members of the Williams family started a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical expenses. Donations continued long after Maleah was pronounced dead, raising $12,570 with the latest donation taking place just almost two weeks ago.

Ramone Jamarr Alston, 22, and Pierre Je Bron Moore, 23, were both charged with first-degree murder and remain under arrest.

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.”