DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — An 18-year-old has been arrested and charged in the deaths of two ninth-graders who were found dead in Durham on Wednesday morning near the intersection of Hudson Avenue and North Buchanan Boulevard.
The Durham Police Department arrested Jorge Raul Benitez-Mendoza, 18, of Durham, in the homicide.
Mendoza is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, police said.
He is currently in custody at police headquarters, but will be moved to the Durham County Magistrates Office, Durham police said.
An investigation began shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday when officers responded to the 1200 block of Leon Street where it was reported that a juvenile male had been shot, Durham police said.
The victim’s parents transported him to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police said that the victim told them there may have been two additional victims who had been shot. The 16-year-old juvenile male is in stable condition, according to police.
The Durham Fire Department deployed a drone for several hours and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office sent out their cadaver dog to search the area for additional victims, and eventually found two more.
Two 16-year-old boys were found dead shortly after 8 a.m. on Wednesday, police said. Emergency Medical Services responded and pronounced both juvenile victims deceased on the scene.
On Wednesday afternoon, Durham Public Schools told CBS 17 the identities of both boys. They were Angel Caneles Quintana, who attended Riverside High School, and Osmar Burgos Banegas, who attended Lakeview School.
A preliminary police investigation revealed the shooting did not appear to be random. However, the relationship between Mendoza, Quintana and Banegas remains unknown, according to police. However, the family of Caneles told CBS 17 the three teens were all friends.
Durham police did tell CBS 17 however, this incident marks the 13th homicide in the city so far this year, with the youngest victims just today. Investigators also added that 13 juveniles have been shot in the city in 2023.
As of 4:16 p.m., Durham police also directly told CBS 17 that “the chief will not be available to speak on camera about the investigations.”
They did not give a reason why.
“People shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not these 16-year-olds don’t come to the house,” Robert McIntyre, who lives nearby, said. “It’s just getting to the point where it’s like, guys, what if that’s your kid? What if that’s your brother, your sister, your niece, your nephew?”
Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator J.D. Harris at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29120 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.