Lead investigator on Z'yon Person case speaks about gang violence in Durham

Josh Chapin Image
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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The federal trial that convicted the man who shot 9-year-old Z'yon Person was the first of its kind in Durham.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The federal trial in Greensboro that convicted the man who shot 9-year-old Z'yon Person was the first of its kind in Durham.

It was the first racketeering criminal organization or RICO case that was prosecuted and led to a conviction.

"Those rivalries between those gangs led to extreme violence over the last three or four years," said Maria Jocys, a retired FBI Agent who was the lead investigator on the case.

Jocys got the call from DPD to lead the investigation for the FBI a month after Z'Yon was killed. She said the case was prosecuted federally because of the gang problem in Durham.

"The FBI has assigned agents and task force officers to Durham and focus on the gang problem and the gun violence resulting from that," she said. "There's innocent people who have been shot in these neighborhoods because of the random shooting that occurs."

Investigators late last week convicted the shooter, Antonio Davenport, on gun, murder and racketeering charges.

Prosecutors say Davenport was trying to get back at a rival gang that August night.

"We were sitting in the living room and we heard 'pop, pop, pop' and I remember counting them in my memory," said Laurie Coffman, who lives down the block from where the shooting happened on Leon Street.

She remembers detectives in her driveway looking for shell casings that night.

"We remember sitting in the living room thinking wow what if that had come through this window, it came close to home," Laurie said.

Jocys said establishing that the gang Davenport was a part of was an enterprise took a significant amount of effort and research.

She said not every shooting Durham is gang-related but "many" are.

"Testimony wasn't just about this one case," Jocys said. "Testimony included events that occurred in other shootings and that was necessary to prove this enterprise was violent."

DPD did not say how many shootings were gang-related but they did share updated crime statistics with ABC 11.