WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The family of a murdered teenager in the city of Wilmington says gangs are a problem and the violence connected to them needs to stop.
"It's like living in Chicago almost," said Brenda Thomas. "I never thought we would see what we're seeing here now."
Thomas is an aunt of Joseph David Williams, known to loved ones as JD. He was shot and killed Saturday afternoon while riding a moped on Forest Hills Drive. Thomas said he was on his way home.
"He was home every night last week," she said.
Posts on social media initially connected JD's death to gangs, but his family said they never saw their smart, smiling and energetic teenager as a gang member.
"He didn't bring it here," said Thomas.
Pastor Eria Nesbitt, another aunt of the victim, echoed the comments of her sister. She said JD wasn't in a gang to her knowledge, but he did hang around a few people she considered a bad influence.
"There's so much peer pressure on the young people today, even if you don't want to be involved in something," said Nesbitt.
Police in Wilmington linked several reports of shots fired early Monday morning to gang activity. JD's aunts said they didn't know about their nephew having any ties to gangs, but they're concerned about possible retaliation for JD's death. Thomas said there's no need for it and the violence has to stop.
"It's senseless," she said. "Killing somebody else isn't going to bring JD back."
Detectives are still investigating the murder. They are searching for a gray Honda coupe with tinted windows. Anyone with information should call WPD at 910-343-3609 or text Crimes (274637), starting with "Tip708" then type your message. Anonymous tips can be made by calling Crime stoppers at 1-800-531-9845.
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