By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) With the weekend upon us and 80-degree highs on the radar, today's Roundup welcomes Charlotteans to Friday through Sunday by suggesting new music from Charlotte-based producer Jeremy Hunt and his Ain't Pancakes project, which just released a new album in October. Consisting of a single expansive, droning experimental treadmill of a track, readers can stream or purchase "Holy Roller Heebie Jeebies, Vol. 2" below.
Before the weekend begins, we recount new stories dealing with a trio of homicides to occur in the Queen City in under 48 hours, an inmate found hanging in their cell at the Mecklenburg County detention center and a roundup of the latest high-rise towers to start construction in Charlotte. It is Friday, April 22, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until Monday.
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1. CMPD opens 3 homicide investigations in 48 hours
What happened: Monday's Roundup reported on a series of shootings that left two people dead and another person injured in Charlotte, and in the following days the violent trend continued. Local police initiated three murder investigations in response to a shooting near Northlake Mall and a body being discovered near a pair of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools buildings.
The news comes within a month of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's latest quarterly data report, which showed a 5% decrease in homicides between the first three months of 2021 and 2022. Charlotte witnessed 19 homicides between the start of 2022 and April 7.
Northlake mall shooting: Medical officials declared 19-year-old Aveon Baker dead from a fatal gunshot wound sustained outside of the Wendy's at 9905 Northlake Centre Pkwy., less than a half-mile from Northlake Mall. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers arrived at the restaurant around 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday to find the injured victim, but law enforcement has yet to announce any suspects or a possible motive in the murder.
Recalling Baker, the victim's relatives told WSOC that he had been working at Wendy's when the crime took place. “He was a young man that graduated high school with good grades, out here working trying to maintain a positive life and live so he can be the best he can be for his siblings,” said Snow Simmons, a friend of the Baker family.
Homicide near CMS elementary, middle: Returning to the Roundup for the fourth time this week, some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents were upset to learn a man was found deceased of "apparent trauma" not far from the district's Albemarle Road Elementary and Middle schools. CMPD officers made their way to the area of Albemarle Road in east Charlotte around 6:30 a.m. Thursday after receiving reports of a suspicious person, but failed to locate a possible suspect.
Speaking to WBTV, Audrey Hayden, a grandmother of a student who attends the elementary building, said hearing the news made her "uneasy." Neither CMS school altered operations in response to the police person, but Albemarle parents did receive an email from the district stating that they would be informed when CMPD released additional information.
Markland Drive homicide: The CMPD opened its most recent murder investigation Thursday night after traveling to Markland Drive to respond to a call about a possible assault in Charlotte's Pinecrest neighborhood. Upon arriving at the 3000 block of the west Charlotte street around 10:45 p.m., police found a victim with an apparent gunshot wound. The injured person soon died at the scene, but police have yet to release the name of the victim or a possible suspect.
The latest incident to underscore safety concerns at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center Central came Tuesday when officers from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office announced that 47-year-old inmate William Rhinesmith had been found suspended from a rope in his cell. Attributing the death to an apparent suicide, MCSO officials said staff initially tried to perform CPR on Rhinesmith, who had been imprisoned in the county facility for less than a week before his death.
Addressing the incident to Queen City News, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said "It's very stressful to be incarcerated" and that "the stress we have in society" is also prevalent inside the jail he manages. McFadden was recently named in a lawsuit stemming from another inmate's suicide in 2020. In November of that year, Queen City News reported separately that a 17-year-old man had died in county custody, and a lawsuit filed Tuesday claims law enforcement and other administrators "took a cavalier approach" in their treatment of the teenager.
More recently, McFadden has faced criticism at the hands of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which issued a report urging the sheriff to depopulate the jail in January in response to overcrowding, lack of staffing and a COVID-19 outbreak. The state also turned its attention on the incarceration facility with an investigation in response to a 31-year-old woman who was found dead at the jail in March.
3. Teeming with towers: Where are Charlotte's latest mixed-use developments?
As Mecklenburg County commissioners seek out solutions for a glut of corporate landlords, other mixed-use high-rise projects are getting underway or receiving approval to begin building.
Theater to tower: During their meeting on Monday, Charlotte City Council approved a proposal that will see the Regal Phillips Place movie theater in South Park be demolished to make way for a 10-story skyscraper. Office cubicles and cash registers at a planned retail space will eventually replace silver screens, despite the concerns of neighbors who think the building's height will compromise SouthPark, per WBTV.
Building near Bank of America Stadium: Two stories taller than the tower planned for South Park, crews started work on a 12-floor residential building that will bring 393 units and a five-story parking garage to Charlotte's Third Ward at a $166 million price tag. Hoping to start leasing at the site near Bank of America Stadium before the end of 2023, Texas developer Aspen Heights Partners was able to build on the arena-adjacent property due to a rezoning request approved by Charlotte City Council in December that could drive the development of a new Carolina Panthers stadium.
Pickleball planned: Also on the docket for Charlotte is the first in what Rally Entertainment hopes will be a series of upscale pickleball facilities. Expect the entertainment complex, dubbed "Rally," to open at the corner of Old Pineville Road and Southside Drive in the first half of 2023 with eight courts to practice pickle paddling, a pair of cocktail bars and space for large events or small parties.
4. Weekend reading list
It was a busy week in Charlotte. and the Roundup can only be so long. Here are a few stories that weren't touched upon but still deserve readers' attention.
- Primary primer: North Carolina's delayed primary elections aren't occurring until May 17, but Friday is the last day for state residents to register to vote in the races. WBTV has a guide to what Charlotteans need to know in order to reach the voting booth, and Queen City Nerve has a list of candidates to help readers decide who to pick once they get there.
- CMS charges: Again weaving its way into the fabric of these daily Roundups, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is considering prosecuting parents who have violated North Carolina truancy laws, which can incur punishment on any caretakers whose students miss more than 10 days of school. Per WFAE, former CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston told District Attorney Spencer Merriweather that a backlog of pandemic cases had paused truancy litigation, but the lawyer called the claim false.
- Career changes: The Charlotte Observer ended the week with the release of a three-part series detailing Charlotte's contribution to the Great Resignation, in which thousands of United States residents have quit or traded careers since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another story in the same stream offers advice for Charlotteans contemplating a career change.
- Chick-fil-A closure: The sole Chick-fil-A store located in Gastonia will be extending its regular Sunday closures to the remainder of days that end in "Y." Location management has not offered a reason for the closing, but WBTV reports that the store's 117 employees will be out ofa job.of