Winston-Salem police are trying to unravel the details behind the shooting of seven people at a birthday party on Cody Drive late Saturday.
What was a festive event ended in violence that caused the deaths of Jalen Chavon Cockerham, 23, of Ogburn Avenue and Fred Douglas Hawkins III, 26, of Regents Park Lane. Two other men and three women were shot — either with penetrating or graze wounds, said Lt. Gregory Dorn of the Winston-Salem Police Department. An eighth person was pistol-whipped. Their names are not being released while detectives investigate the incident, which took place in the city’s north.
In response to the shooting on Cody Drive and other recent gun violence, a news conference is scheduled for noon today, Friday, at the Public Safety Center, 725 N. Cherry St. The scheduled speakers include the Winston-Salem police chief, the Forsyth County sheriff and district attorney, the president of the Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem, and representatives of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
They plan to discuss strategies to prevent future violent acts, as well as the need for witnesses and victims to cooperate with law enforcement.
At one point Saturday night, between 100 and 200 partygoers were at the house in the 4200 block of Cody Drive, which is in a cul-de-sac neighborhood, Dorn said.
It was being advertised as the “fourth annual block party, with food, drinks, and BYOB,” according to one social media post. Dorn said the host of the party and the owner of the house where it was held are cooperating with police.
At the time of the shooting, there were likely about 100 people outside the house, Dorn said. The partygoers were in their 20s.
It’s unclear whether any of the people who were shot did any of the shooting, Dorn said. Neither Cockerham, who died in the street, nor Hawkins, who died in a local hospital Tuesday, was found with a gun, Dorn said.
Investigators are trying to determine a possible motive for the shooting.
“We’re still trying to sort out if there was a targeted victim or if it was random,” Dorn said. “There was a bunch of random gunfire.”
One of the victims, Hawkins, was a gang subject of interest, he said. There were several gang members in the area at the time of the shooting, according to authorities.
“We don’t know if this was gang-on-gang or just a beef between members,” Dorn said.
He added that police have not ruled out other possibilities for the shooting, including drugs, possible ongoing threats between people at the party or something else.
Multiple people fired shots, Dorn said. It’s unclear if an argument broke out before the gunfire. Dorn declined to comment on whether there was a feud among any of the guests at the birthday party.
The celebration began late Saturday afternoon and continued until the gunshots were fired around 10:55 p.m.
One neighbor on the street, who declined to give his name out of fear for his safety, said he was watching TV at the time and thought the gunshots were firecrackers.
“Then I heard somebody yelling, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead,’” the neighbor said, so he called 911.
Another neighbor, who has lived on the street for more than 40 years, said the gathering overflowed the quarter-mile street and spread onto the main road. His car was hit by a bullet in the rear door of the driver’s side and the windshield.
“This is all surreal,” the neighbor said.