WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department has identified the 18-year-old shot and killed in the Creekwood community late Thursday night.
According to the Wilmington Police Department, officers responded to a notification from ShotSpotter — the city’s gunfire detection system — in the 700 block of Emory Street shortly after 11 p.m.
“It sounded like fireworks going off, then I realized it was bad, a senseless tragedy,” said Audrey Miller who lives in the Creekwood community where the fatal shooting occurred.
“I heard several gunshots, looked out the window and saw the police pulling up and them chasing down whoever they were,” said Creekwood resident Charles Jacobs.
Police located the victim, Zalleux Johnson of Wilmington, with gunshot wounds and immediately began life-saving measures until EMS arrived.
“This is such a sad tragedy, I am feeling sorry for his mom, because I have kids, and I wouldn’t want anyone to call me and tell me something like that,” said Miller.
Johnson was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he died.
An officer at the scene told WECT that the shooting took place at a basketball court at Clayton Road and N. 30th Street. Johnson then fled the scene before collapsing on Emory Street.
Johnson’s sister, Taya Johnson, had a close relationship with her brother — who she called ZJ.
She says their father had health problems a few years back and her brother had a hard time coping.
“Everybody would have all eyes on ZJ all the time, said Taya Johnson.
Zalleux fell in with the wrong crowd, according to his sister. He was sent to a juvenile facility for committing a robbery in 2017 and was released in October.
Since his release, his sister says he was working to get his GED and she was working with him to be a better Christian.
“I’m his accountability partner. He asked me to make sure everything’s okay with him," said Taya Johnson. "I bought him a journal and a bible a couple weeks ago. Checking up on him and making sure he’s doing good.”
She worried about him living in Creekwood and still didn’t approve of his friends.
"It's sad but I knew eventually something terrible would happen."
Her worst fears came true.
“I could see that he was made for more, way more.”
This marks Wilmington’s first homicide in 2019. The last homicide in Creekwood was September 3, 2016 when Darryl Freeman was shot and killed.
“Creekwood has been really quiet lately. Over the past couple of years, crime has gone down in housing properties,” said Lt. Amy Dover with Wilmington Police Department’s Housing Task Force.
Dover, along with the Wilmington Housing Authority, said crime has dropped more than 40 percent in the housing communities over the past year. Officials attribute the dip to community policing.
“We are out there getting to know the people intimately and they make relationships with the people in housing and gain trust from the citizens so people are apt to come to us with their problems,” said Dover.
WPD contracts with several housing communities within the Housing authority, Creekwood included. Those are: Hillcrest, Houston Moore, Vista Village, Rankin Terrance, Glover Plaza, East Brook, and Solomon Towers.
No funeral arrangements have been made.
The investigation is on-going. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the WPD at 910-343-3609 or use Text-A-Tip.