15-year-old girl killed, 5 others injured in shooting at Goldsboro spring break party

Thursday, April 13, 2023
15-year-old girl killed, 5 others injured in Goldsboro shooting
Six people were shot in Goldsboro on Wednesday evening, leaving five injured and a 15-year-old girl dead.

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Six people were shot in Goldsboro on Wednesday evening, leaving five injured and a 15-year-old girl dead.

The people who were shot ranged in age from 15 to 19 years old.

The shooting happened during a gathering at a home in the 100 block of N. Leslie Street near the Piggly Wiggly grocery store, Goldsboro police said.

A woman told an ABC11 breaking news crew at the scene that her 15-year-old daughter had been shot and killed.

Joyonna Pearsall was 15 years old.
Courtesy of family

On Thursday, the victim's aunt told ABC11 identified the girl who died as Joyonna Pearsall, a high school sophomore.

ABC11 spoke with Pearsall's family, who said the shooting happened at a spring break party that went off the rails.

"It was a spring break pool party, and whatever fight broke out or whatever happened, it was gunshots shared between two or three young men, and she just got caught with one of the bullets," said Maria Bell, Joyonna's aunt.

Bell told ABC11 that the family is praying for those responsible -- and pleading with them to do the right thing.

"Whoever the young men are, I pray within my heart that they will turn themselves in, and get themselves to a place where they can get help," she said.

Police said the other five shooting victims are described as stable and are being treated at UNC Health Wayne.

"It hit kind of close to home," Mayor Pro Tem Taj Polack said. "I had walked my dog on the premises. The property is about a block long and saw some of my students and interacted with them. Told them to be safe and unfortunately 30 minutes after that -- I was on my neighbor's porch and heard the gunshots. They thought it was fireworks. But I knew the sound of the caliber."

Polack, who also works at Goldsboro High School, said many students were enjoying a pool party. Then, about 6:30 p.m., law enforcement responded to a shooting call on North Leslie Street.

"I had seen her in passing and you know, I recognized her, when the name came to me. I knew she was one of mine," Polack said. "Like I said, one of the students at the school. So it kind of hit hard."

The police and fire lights flashed throughout the otherwise quiet community as students were supposed to be celebrating their spring break.

"Not a way you want to start those warm, pretty days," said Polack.

Another witness told ABC11 that he spoke to some of the victims as they were entering earlier that night.

"Man, it's sad, because I got kids that same age, and it's senseless. Because she didn't have nothing to do with nothing. Nothing with whoever was shooting. She didn't have nothing to do with all that. It's an innocent bystander, man. It's terrible, it hurt me so bad. Even though I didn't know the girl, I just spoke with her like six minutes before," said Stephen Diggs.

Pastor David Elliott came to the neighborhood as soon as he heard about what happened to show his support for the teens and the community.

"The hope is that when kids get together, you have fun, you enjoy music and things like that. You never expect that you would have to be worrying about burying your child. Or even the thought of being in the hospital holding on for dear life," he said.

"I hope this isn't the beginning of something tragic for our community."

Community activists in Goldsboro are calling for change, too.

Mark Colebrook founded the organization "Operation Unite Goldsboro" and taught Joyonna at Brogden Middle School. He described her as an energetic, sweet-hearted kid.

"She had always done the right thing. light of the world, had dreams, had aspirations," said Colebrook. "So even when you do the right thing, sometimes the results aren't where you need to be."

Colebrook said it's crucial that local leaders get more people involved to tackle the gun violence issue.

"It's always the same people at the same meetings talking about the same thing," he said. "So we have to get other people to the table."

The victims' names have not been released by authorities.

No suspect has been arrested.