LAURINBURG — A 15-year-old who was gunned down while walking on a city street last weekend is remembered as a playful teenager who had aspirations of playing professional football; and in the wake of his death, a local pastor is wondering how to put an end to the violence he sees all too often.
“Ty’rek was a sweet boy, very playful,” said William Harrison of his nephew, who died at a hospital early Sunday, hours after being struck multiple times by bullets fired from a passing white Lincoln. “He was different from a lot of people.”
Harrison, who traveled from Virginia for the viewing and burial of Amming Ty’rek Harrison, a sophomore at Scotland High School who excelled in a city recreational football league and was known simply as Ty’rek to friends and family, fought back tears as he stood on the front porch of the home the teenager shared with his grandmother on Willow Street.
“I’m just glad my sister and mother were able to speak with him at the hospital,” Harrison said.
Police say Ty’rek was also able to give them clues that led to the arrest of three men less than a week later.
Eddie Frank McLaurin III, 20, of 312 Carver St., Apt. H; Shaquille Juwan Deberry, 21, of 19500 Lauchwood Lane; and Johnny Devante Williams, 20, of 19100 Blakely Road were each charged with murder on Thursday and are being held in the Scotland County jail without bond.
The men also face charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and felony conspiracy.
Police say Ty’rek was walking with 17-year-old Dyrek McDonald and two others, all of whom fled when shots rang out. McDonald was later contacted by police when they learned he had been shot in the leg, and was treated and released at Scotland Memorial Hospital before being turned over to Maxton authorities for outstanding warrants in Robeson County.
McLaurin, Deberry and Williams all have criminal records that include assault and weapons charges.
Ty’rek’s death, Police Chief Darwin Williams said at a press conference Friday, was an act of random, senseless violence.
“He was walking down a street with some friends,” he said. “… We’re still trying to determine why it took place. We can speculate, but we’re trying to investigate and handle it the right way.”
Ty’rek was often seen walking the neighborhood by the Rev. Sam Standridge, pastor of South Laurinburg Baptist Church on Maple Street — located yards from the front lawn where Ty’rek was shot. The two would speak in passing, but were barely acquaintances.
When he heard about Saturday’s shooing, Stanridge was not surprised — only disheartened that the string of violence he has seen has no sign of abating anytime soon.
“When I was a kid we used to play king of the mountain,” Stanridge said. “That’s pretty much the same way over here. That’s the only thing they’ve got.”
Standridge has prayed throughout his tenure, which is nearing its four-year mark, for an answer to how to reach youth headed down a dark path. The solution, he says, is all about access to knowledge of what lies outside of the world which they create — a cold world filled with drugs, violence, and a philosophy of getting ahead at whatever the cost.
“The children have nothing to do. Therefore, they have no goals, they have nothing to aspire to. With that being said, their heroes become people that probably don’t need to be their heroes.”
A plan of action is something Standridge doesn’t have, but change is what he is striving for in small steps. Ideas have come from his congregation for outreach committees, and the church operates a food bank and also gives blankets and coats to those in need.
A semi-annual prayer vigil is also held, he said, no matter how many naysayers he may encounter.
“A lot of people who don’t believe in God anymore will say ‘Oh, that won’t help anything,’ but until it doesn’t, them I’m going to keep doing it, sure enough,” he said.
Harrison would also like to see a vigil held in Ty’rek’s honor — but only if it could remain peaceful.
“We want justice, but we don’t want to see any more violence,” he said.