'A sickening, dark day': Arrest made after 2 teens found dead near Durham school, another injured

Thursday, March 23, 2023
Arrest made after 2 Durham teens shot, killed
Durham police said they've charged an 18-year-old with murder in the deaths of two Durham high school students and the wounding of another.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham police are investigating a shooting that left two teens dead and another injured and have made at least one arrest.

Police announced late Wednesday they've arrested 18-year-old Jorge Raul Benitez-Mendoza of Durham in the investigation.

Mendoza is facing charges of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

The investigation began around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday when officers responded to Leon Street where it was reported that a 16-year-old had been shot.

The teen's parents took him to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The teen reported that there may have been two other people who had been shot.

Durham police are investigating a shooting that left two teens dead and another injured and have made at least one arrest.

Overnight, the Durham Fire Department used a drone for several hours and the Durham County Sheriff's Office sent out a cadaver dog to search the area. Two 16-year-old boys were later found dead near the intersection of Hudson Avenue and North Buchanan Boulevard, shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Family members identified one of the two teens killed as Riverside High School student Angel Canales.

"Good heart and sweet," one family member described him.

Durham police are investigating a shooting that left two teens dead and another injured and have made at least one arrest.

Spandora Jackson, who lives nearby, said she felt for the mothers of the teens involved. She said her 19-year-old was shot and killed in Durham years ago.

"When the mom came out, it just crushed me. I felt her pain," Jackson said. "It's heartbreaking and my heart goes out to her, the father and the family ... It's a hard pill to swallow."

The triple shooting comes one month after a 17-year-old Hillside High School student was killed in a double shooting off campus.

This makes at least 13 people younger than 18 who were shot this year, according to Durham Police. It's a staggering number that some Durham residents say they can't take in.

"That's somebody's kids, brothers and sisters man," Robert McIntyre said. "They're 16, what could you be doing at 16 to really get you killed out here?"

Joy Haywood was concerned about the recent uptick in shootings involving young people.

"When you're that age you don't get it," Haywood said. "You don't fully grasp the concept that comes after. You're so quick to react, you're so quick to anger. I'm concerned that it's just going to continue. It's really important to get your mental health, it's important for the community to get involved, it's important for everyone to be mindful and watch out and guard each other cause this is unacceptable."

Durham Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton said it's an education issue, a parks and recreation issue, and a kitchen-table issue.

"This is a sickening, dark day and trends we've been noticing," Middleton said, and he noted that the caliber of weapons used is getting higher, the ferocity of the incidents is increasing and the ages of the people involved are getting younger.

"These are babies, these are children. We can't arrest our way out of this, we can't incarcerate our way out of this, we got a problem," Middleton said. "We have a gun problem, and we seem to have a proliferating gang issue that is affecting our children; we're watching our children be sacrificed to this."

According to Durham Public Schools (DPS), two of the teens involved attended Riverside High and one attended Lakeview School.

Durham Public Schools sent ABC11 a copy of the email sent to parents this morning: "While we are limited in the information that we can share due to privacy laws protecting students and their families, as well as due to an active police investigation, we are saddened to share that two Riverside students and one Lakeview student were the victims of gun violence last night in an off-campus incident.

Durham Public Schools counselors and support staff are available at Riverside and Lakeview to provide additional care for students and staff who have learned about this tragedy. We are committed to our schools being safe and secure places where Durham's children and youth learn, grow, and receive social-emotional support in the face of adversity.

We call on our community, once again, to stand against gun violence. We must counter the easy availability of weapons and provide opportunities and social support networks for our youth so that violence is unthinkable and hope is universal. We call on the people of Durham County to join our students in this cause."

DATA: ABC11 Neighborhood Safety Tracker

Middleton released a statement earlier in the day saying that "in my time as a public official, I have received many reports and briefings about troubling things. But today I don't think I have ever felt more devastated and sickened by what our city has learned about the death of these babies. There can be no full-throated, enthusiastic celebration of the greatness of Durham until the most vulnerable and powerless of our neighbors are safe. Who are more vulnerable than our children? This is a heartbreakingly dark day for our city. Our love and our city's heartbeat belongs to the families of those children."

He also told ABC11 later Wednesday that "when these incidents do happen I think it's a reminder that we have to go harder than what we've been doing and put resources and programs that don't come delivered with handcuffs."

He added: "This is a state of urgency."

Police said the shooting does not appear to be random.

ABC11 Chopper Video

The investigation is taking place at the intersection of Hudson Avenue and North Buchanan Boulevard.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator J.D. Harris at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29120 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.


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