Mom of teen shot, killed in Durham demands change as 85% of shooting incidents in 2021 are unsolved

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Karen Wells had dinner with her 15-year-old son Ian Wells before he left to go to a friend’s house to babysit a loved one on Saturday, April 3.

The mother got the call just hours later that her son had been shot.

“I didn’t understand it, because he was just supposed to be in the house babysitting, so what happened?” Wells said.

Ian Wells went with a family friend to the BP gas station at the intersection of South Alston Avenue and the Durham Freeway late Saturday night. He wasn’t there long when someone shot him.

“My son jumped in my daughter’s van and drove off, trying to get away from them,” Karen Wells said.

RELATED: ‘I am angry, I am mad, I am sad’ — sister says after teen brother killed in Durham shooting

The suspect then went after her son and shot up the van he was driving. He crashed near the intersection of South Alston and Angier avenues. He was taken to the hospital for treatment but died the next morning.

“It was just the worst thing that any mother could ever hear — that they did all they could do,” Wells said.

Wells said her son Ian was only a freshman at Person High School and that he loved to play football and the drums.

“Ian was a light, he was very joyous,” Wells said. “He walked into the room, he was just full of life.”

Wells said she still cannot believe her son is gone.

“A few hours, a few hours, that was the difference between me telling my son ‘I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow’ and the doctor telling me ‘we have done all we can do,'” Wells said.

So far there has been no word on if an arrest has been made in her son’s death.

According to data from Durham police, only 11 percent of the 971 shooting incidents in Durham last year have been solved. This year, 15 percent of the 176 shooting incidents have been solved.

As for homicides, 37 percent of the 38 homicides last year have been solved and 43 percent of the 7 homicides so far this year have been solved.

“It’s time for change,” Wells said. “It’s time to stop talking about change and it’s time to put actions in motion.”

CBS 17 asked Durham councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton his thoughts about 11 percent of the shooting incidents from last year have been solved.

“Investigations that have not been solved doesn’t mean work isn’t being done on them,” Middleton said. “We are consistently either matching or exceeding the FBI’s national standard. Also, the solve rate can get amended. 2020’s numbers can change, based upon something that happens in 2022. These cases are ongoing.”

But according to the FBI’s latest stats from 2019, the average solve rate for aggravated assaults in cities the size of Durham, with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 people, was 41 percent. The average homicide solve rate for cities of this size was 51.5 percent.

Wells said she is urging the city and police to do more to improve their solve rates for shootings and homicides. She said she would like to see police put more cameras on streets where shootings are prone to happen.

Wells said she would also like to see a stronger officer presence in crime-ridden neighborhoods so that the police can build more trust with the community.

“Durham needs to connect with some other states that have some verified things in place that are working,” Wells said. “This type of activity may never go away, but I believe that it can be calmed down and controlled to the point that when it does happen, police are on top of it right then.”

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