More information about the events leading up to and after the shooting of N.C. Central University student DeAndre Ballard has been made public as outcry about the incident’s handling by both the university and police grows.
NCCU students and community members voiced their concerns about the university’s timing of their announcement Friday, in which Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye refers to the shooting as “an incident that is under an open investigation” at a time when the university knew the physical education senior’s cause of death.
“Sh— is crazy… our chancellor addressed this young man’s murder four days later saying he ‘passed away after an incident.’ We are just learning he was shot and killed last night… this shit happened last Tuesday,” NCCU student Takiyah Thompson, who made national news for her role in tearing down a Confederate monument in downtown Durham, said on Twitter Tuesday evening.
“When it comes to any relations go off campus apartments that house 90% of NCCU students, NCCU knows what’s going on,” sophomore Beyoncé Brown added. “The same way that NCCU knew about the shooting of the security guard that works there, they had to have known about the shooting of DeAndre Ballard. (And) if they knew about it why did they continue to let students believe he was missing for a WEEK.”
Others took issue with the wording of the announcement itself.
“‘Fallen?'” asked political activist and 2016 Workers World Party vice presidential nominee Lamont Lilly in a tweet Tuesday morning. “NO! NO! NO! This young man was shot and killed, MURDERED by a security guard at the same apartment complex he lived at. He did not just ‘fall down.’ Tell the students the full truth. We need (to) correct this narrative ASAP!
According to police and friends of Ballard, rumors of similar shootings in the Cornwallis Road area and the inability to identify DeAndre’s body led to the late announcement.
The rumor that a Campus Crossings security guard was shot early last week muddied the water for those concerned about the physical education senior’s whereabouts. DeAndre’s roommates at the apartment complex called his friend, NCCU graduate student Jalen Cooley, to see if he knew where DeAndre was.
Cooley was the last person to see Ballard alive, having dropped him back off at his apartment less than an hour before the incident after they watched football together.
When they realized on Thursday afternoon that the state of DeAndre’s room had not changed and DeAndre had not contacted anyone since Monday, a missing person report was filed.
During this time, the body of DeAndre Ballard had been fingerprinted and photographed for identification. Durham police spokesperson Kammie Michael told The Herald-Sun via email that his prints weren’t in the system and, due to the late filing of the report, was not in the missing person records when the department initially checked.
“They shared a photo of the victim with all sworn Durham police officers to see if anyone recognized him, but the photos we had were not appropriate to be shared publicly,” Michael wrote. “They also showed the photo to NCCU police officers to see if they recognized him.”
Both efforts apparently proved fruitless, as neither city nor university police were able to identify Ballard from the photographs given. It was only after a second check of missing person reports after friends had filed it that police were able to match the report to the unknown gunshot victim.
No charges have been filed against the armed NC Detective Agency security guard who has been confirmed as DeAndre’s shooter at this time, and the agency’s vice president Kevin Ladd says that the guard returned to work Monday night at a different location after being taken in for questioning and released.
“In our eyes this is a tragic accident,” he said. “It never should have gotten to this, but our officer was fearful for his life.”
The guard told police that DeAndre was seen attempting to get into other residents’ locked cars when he approached him. DeAndre then got into the security guard’s own passenger seat and started trying to fight the guard. After leaving the vehicle, DeAndre allegedly tried to grab the guard’s gun before it went off.
DeAndre’s mother, Ernisha, says that police told her the same story but is skeptical of its veracity.
“There is no way. I don’t even buy that,” she said. According to her, the 23-year-old was “terrified” of guns.
Ladd also made it clear that both the guard in question and another NC Detective Agency guard who witnessed the event are black.
“It’s relevant because we’re getting death threats,” said Ladd, who told WRAL that he has reported three different threats to police. “With what’s going on in this country, people are assuming that this is a white officer.”
DeAndre’s funeral is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. at Without Limits Christian Center in New Bern.
Anyone with further information is asked to call Investigator E. Ortiz at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29337 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.