DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Durham man has been arrested and charged with killing two men in separate shootings earlier this month in Durham, police announced Wednesday.
According to police, Mario Blanding, 33, shot and killed 38-year-old Antone Baines and 40-year-old Corey Gooch on the evening of Feb. 3.
Police said Baines was shot and killed around 5:50 p.m. in the 200-block of Cushman Street. While investigating Baines’ murder, police were alerted to another shooting in the 500-block of Hardee Street.
Officers and EMS personnel responded to the Hardee Street scene where they found Gooch dead from a gunshot wound.
Police said at the time that they believed the shootings could be related. That has since been confirmed.
The group held a balloon release near the intersection of Cushman Street and Plummer Place where Baines was murdered.
At the gathering, pastors and advocates called for people to put the guns down and for those in the community who know something about any of Durham’s recent shootings to come forward.
Gooch’s aunt, Dr. Cheryl McNair, said he left behind a wife and two sons. She said they are calling on city leaders to do more to curb the violence.
“He loved people and he would do anything for anybody,” McNair said. “A lot of these people aren’t killing because they want to, they have got into a place where they have drug habits. I just want to say there’s got to be another way. We’ve got to do something in this community to help with these mental issues.”
Blanding was arrested in the 100-block of Apogee Drive on Feb. 18, police said.
He is being held in the Durham County Jail without bond on the murder charges.