ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) - The families of two Elizabeth City men shot and killed on New Year's Day say they warned the victims about street violence.
Police found the bodies of Quintin Epps, 21, and Jamie'al Walker, 23, on Shepard Street Tuesday. Police charged Gyrell Lee, 24, of Elizabeth City, with Epps' murder. They have not charged anyone in Walker's death.
While police sort out the details, the families of Epps and Walker continue to grieve. They say they warned the young men about hanging out with the wrong crowds.
From now on, Epps' mother, Tijuana Hill, will spend New Year's Day in silence, remembering how police found her son lying in the street.
She says he was out celebrating just hours before.
"After 12, he called, Quintin called," Hill said. "He said, 'Happy New Year, Mom!' and I said, 'Happy New Year' to him. We were on the phone and we both were real happy."
The next call came from a family Epps stayed with in Elizabeth City. The woman on the other line told Hill her son had been shot. Hill rushed to the Norfolk hospital to see her son.
"The doctor came in and said he did everything he could do and he just didn't make it," Hill said.
Police say the trouble started early Tuesday morning when Epps and Walker got into an argument. Police say they were standing on Shepard Street with a group of more than five people. It's not clear who fired the first shot, but both Epps and Walker were hit by bullets and killed.
Walker's uncle says the violence has to stop.
"The question that we got to ask the kids is when they going to learn? Is it worth it? Is it worth the killing? Losing your brother, sister?" Lemuel Walker said. "Over here, it's a family and we all hurt just as bad as the family on the other side."
Hill says her son had been to jail twice before but she thought he was turning his life around, with a new job and a new attitude.
"Him and all his friends, I talked to them," Hill said. "I said, 'You know what's going to happen one day is somebody is going to be burying a child.' And I said, 'It could even be mine.'"
But the warning she gave doesn't make burying her child any easier. Nothing will bring her baby boy back to her. Hill says she will always remember Epps' warm smile.
"Everybody that knew him knew he had a good heart," Hill said. "He got a lot of love out here, a lot of love."
Police are investigating if the shooting was gang related. They have not released any information about the weapons used and if those weapons were recovered.
Anyone with information should call the Elizabeth City Crime Line at 252-335-5555. Information leading to an arrest can remain anonymous. There is a reward up to $2,000.
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