A 7-year-old boy was killed after a shot was fired into a vehicle his mother was driving, and now police say they have arrested the suspect shooter.
Around 11 p.m. on April 21, police responded to the shooting scene and found Zakylen Greylen Harris with an apparent gunshot wound to the neck area, according to authorities.
Harris was brought to Catawba Valley Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
Zakylen was riding in a vehicle with his mother and younger brothers, ages 6 and 1, at the time of the incident, according to Hickory Police.
The mother told investigators that she had merged in front of a dark-colored SUV, effectively cutting the vehicle off, Hickory Police Cpt. Jeff Young said. She then heard yelling from a woman in the SUV before the shot was fired.
Young saw the mother saw a muzzle flash and the back window to her car shattered.
"She immediately looks back and sees her son was shot and she pulls off the road," Young said at a press conference streamed by local media.
Police believe that multiple people were in the SUV, and a white woman with blonde hair was reportedly in the front passenger seat. The passenger is the one that yelled at the victim's car.
The boy’s mother told police that she saw someone reach around the woman to fire the shot.
Police are open to all possibilities for the motive of the shooting, but Zakylen’s mother told police she believes the shooting was a result of a random act of road rage, Young said.
“This was a senseless act of violence,” said Chief Thurman Whisnant during a press conference. “There’s no excuse for this.”
On April 23, police announced the arrest of Douglas Mason Wilson in connection with the crime. He was charged with first-degree murder and is detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility with no bond.
“Zakylen always had a smile on his face, a hug to share and was ready to laugh,” wrote Erin Sigmon, principal of Southwest Primary, where he attended school. “Those of us who knew him well are going to miss him dearly.”
Sigmon posted a lengthily letter to the school's community on its Facebook page.
This investigation is on-going and anyone with information is urged to contact the Hickory Police Department at (828) 328-5551 or Inv. Tammy Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org.