'Dayve is loved': Family, friends shocked to learn 18-year-old killed in suspected shoplifting case

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Identities released for man, SBI agent involved in Apex shooting
Apex Police Department confirmed the identities of the man killed and the SBI officer who shot him outside an Academy Sports on Tuesday.

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Apex Police Department confirmed the identities of the man killed and the SBI officer who shot him outside an Academy Sports + Outdoors on Tuesday.

ABC11 spoke with the family of 18-year-old Dayve Sanchez on Tuesday evening. They first identified him as the person gunned down over a shoplifting dispute around 1:30 p.m. outside the Apex sporting goods store on Pine Plaza Drive.

"Dayve is loved. He's a kid. He was only 18 years old," said family friend Joyce Bloodsworth. "He had his whole life to live, and we just want answers because we love and care about him very, very much and he should not be gone."

Sanchez's mother told ABC11 that they only found out about his involvement in the incident hours after it happened. The family was shocked to hear the news, saying the actions police attribute to Sanchez don't line up with who they know him to be. On Wednesday, they shared that they are still searching for information.

Sanchez's mother posted on Facebook, "I have no information on what happened to my son. The only thing I know is that the police shot my son. I ask that you share and get the word out. I need justice for my son."

Apex Police Department said Sanchez and a still unidentified woman were suspected of shoplifting. The woman reportedly tried to steal ammunition from a counter display and the pair then ran out of the store. Once in the parking lot, they were met by a man who turned out to be a State Bureau of Investigation agent, now identified as 29-year-old Denzel Ward. State records show that Ward has been employed by the SBI since September 2020.

Ward has been placed on administrative duty pending a full investigation into what happened.

Apex Police Department confirmed the identities of the man killed and the SBI officer who shot him outside an Academy Sports on Tuesday.

Investigators said Ward was on duty and opened fire. He shot and killed Sanchez, who investigators said was believed to have been carrying a weapon. Apex officers said they found a weapon next to Sanchez's body during their investigation. Officials have still not shared why Ward was at the store.

The woman with Sanchez was not shot during the incident, but she was taken to the hospital for treatment. Police said Wednesday that she remains under the care of medical professionals and has not yet been charged in the case.

Family members also said the woman who was with Sanchez was a "new friend."

WATCH: Police chief delivers briefing on shooting

Apex Police detail investigation into fatal shooting Academy Sports

A local social justice advocate and executive director of Emancipate NC said she is very interested in the actions that led to Ward and Sanchez's encounter turning deadly.

"The first questions that come to mind are was this necessary? Because I think we always have to prioritize life over property," Dawn Blagrove said. "This child did a childish thing and maybe stole something out of a store. But he should not have died for that."

She acknowledged the presence of Sanchez having a gun does raise more questions but still does not warrant his death.

"Having a gun should not be an offense that makes it OK to murder you or even makes you a suspect of any kind," Blagrove said. "This officer had not been inside the store. It is not clear that he knew that a crime had even been committed inside of that store."

She also pointed to an added complication that the Apex Police Department faces in investigating the shooting.

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"The fact that the officer that shot him is an SBI agent creates a bit more of a wrinkle as I understand there is no body camera footage. So, we will not be able to have that kind of collateral redundancy that we're used to having in officer-involved shootings," she said.

She is hopeful that surveillance footage will be able to add missing context.

"Hopefully, (Apex Police) Chief (Jason) Armstrong will use due diligence and equity and fairness and compassion and common sense and reach a conclusion about whether or not charges are warranted in a way that will feel fair and equitable to this child's family and everyone involved," Blagrove said.

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Newly released 911 calls from Apex Police reveal the tense and frightening moments in the parking lot of Academy Sports.

The calls came in from witnesses at Academy Sports and nearby businesses, who detailed the exchange between Sanchez and Ward.

The 911 Operator asked one of the callers if they saw the suspect.

"He's literally outside with the guy. He has him on the floor. He's like choking him," the caller said.

Another 911 caller described seeing Sanchez on the ground not moving.

"There was a lot of yelling and I'm not sure the person on the ground that was shot just now ,he is completely unresponsive. I believe it was two or three shots," said the caller.