WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington Police detectives are searching for a man they say may have shot and killed 17-year-old Tyshawn Gause earlier this week.
The victim's mother said she fears the violence will continue unless authorities find 32-year-old Leroy Bernard Sampson Jr., who is charged with first degree murder of her son, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
"If law enforcement don't find him before we find him, you will find out how we are going to react to the death of a 17 year old," said Lakeitha Smith, Tyshawn's mother.
Lakeitha said her son was loved by many in the community and fears they may now be seeking revenge for his death.
"I would feel a lot better if Mr. Sampson turned himself in," said Lakeitha. "It would be better for him - a lot safer on his end. I can't control what will happen and I don't wish anything bad."
John Doe was with Tyshawn the night he was shot in his mouth on the corner of North 8th and Red Cross Streets.
"He was talking to this guy and I turned around and heard a shot," said Doe. "I tried to run in fear of losing more life and heard a few more [shots]."
Doe said he returned to the crime scene shortly after he fled and tried to save his friend. He told 911 operators that Tyshawn was being mugged. According to Doe, Guase had about $200 in his pocket the night of the shooting.
Family and friends are leaving items at a makeshift memorial to remember a life that was lost while detectives continue to search for his murderer.
The Wilmington Police Department is offering a $1000 reward for information leading to Sampson's arrest.
Anyone who knows where he is should call 911, or call the Wilmington Police Department's main number (910-343-3600) and leave a message for Det. A. Korwatch. Anonymous text messages may be submitted through Text-A-Tip. Text "Tip708" and your message to CRIMES (274637).
A wake will be held for Tyshawn Friday evening at 6:00 at John H. Shaw's Son Funeral Home. His funeral will be held Saturday at noon at the Mount Calvary Church in Wilmington.