WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Dozens of people endured chilly temperatures Tuesday night to stand together in unity and in remembrance of Ladawn Morgan, who was shot and killed in Winston-Salem one year ago.
On a much warmer day, around 2 p.m. on March 27, 2017, Morgan was in front of a house on the corner of Rich Avenue and East Ninth Street, when police say two groups exchanged gunfire. Morgan, an innocent bystander, was shot. She was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where she later died.
“It’s gone quick, but it’s gone slow,” said Michael Warren, Morgan’s uncle, of the year since her death.
In the year since, there have been vigils, a balloon release on what would have been her 20th birthday and an empty spot at the table on holidays.
“Christmas morning was very hard,” said April Warren Morgan, Ladawn’s mother, who added that she dreams of her daughter “quite often.”
People began to gather at the scene of Morgan’s homicide around 6 p.m. Tuesday, for an event which not only honored her, but was meant to bring awareness to gun violence.
For many of her family members, it was the first time they saw the scene of her homicide in person.
“Behind me is something that literally changed our lives, not just last year, but forever,” Warren said, of the home. “It’s kind of hard to even turn around and look at it, but tragedy is behind me and we’re wanting to get the word out to find the killer who changed our lives like this.”
Police say they still have a subject of interest in Morgan’s homicide, but have not received any first-hand information regarding who the gunman was.
“Whoever pulled that trigger, you just don’t know the agony and pain you’ve put us through,” said Carolyn Bailey, Morgan’s grandmother.
When asked what Morgan would be doing today had she not been killed, her mother said, “there were so many things that she had planned. She would be working and bouncing around.”
“We were planning, and doing things to help her reach her goals, and it was just all taken away from us, just like that,” Bailey added.
Rich Avenue is encompassed in Winston-Salem police beat 222, which also includes areas like Cleveland and Cameron avenues. Police say from March 27, 2017, to March 26, 2018, there has been a total of 74 part 1 offenses involving firearms within beat 222. Those offenses include Morgan’s homicide, one rape, 19 robberies and 53 aggravated assaults.
A man named Alexander Barber Jr., who was 79 years old at the time, was also hit during the shooting. Barber was shot in the face while reading his Bible in his driveway but was able to return home two days later.