ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — An arrest warrant has been issued for a 34-year-old man in connection with a shooting that left three people dead in Elizabeth City.
Police say Ricky Lewis Etheridge Jr. is wanted in connection to a shooting on Dec. 2 that left three people, including a 3-year-old old girl, dead. He is wanted on three counts of murder.
Etheridge is considered armed and dangerous.
According to police, the incident occurred on Dec. 2 near the intersection of Jordan Street and Perry Street around 5 p.m. Officers responded to a report of gunshots and arrived to find “several” people with gunshot wounds.
Three people died from their injuries, including:
- Jaquan White (male), of Elizabeth City, age 18
- De‘Shay (Takeyia) Berry (female), of Manteo, age 39
- Allura Pledger (female), of Manteo, age 3
WAVY-TV spoke with all three victim’s families.
We spoke with White’s aunt Tiffany Griffin. She said White and her other nephew decided to head to the ballpark because the weather was so nice. Both of her nephews were shot on the ride there. The nephew who survived told his aunt what happened.
“They turned on Perry Street, the car stopped, the driver knew or was talking to someone,” said Griffin. “Bullets just started flying. A baby was killed and my nephew was holding this baby trying to stop the bullets from hitting this baby. Even when they were killing him he sat there and was trying to stop those bullets from hitting that baby.”
“Imagine being ambushed and you don’t know nothing. Bullets just flying. You’re in a car. And you’re bunched in. Where can you run?” said Griffin.
Griffin said she knows people in the community have information that could lead to justice for White. She’s begging them to come forward and share what they know with the police.
“We want to find out who did this. We need help. But people are scared to say anything. They don’t wanna call themselves ‘snitch’ or whatever. These innocent lives are being taken. Families are being destroyed. And it hurts,” Griffin said.
Griffin said the surviving nephew is traumatized.
WAVY-TV also spoke with family members of Allura Pledger and Takeyia Berry.
“I received a phone call from my sister and she was in hysterics. She told me that Allura and Takeyia had been shot and killed. My brother at the time was in Wisconsin,” said Andrecia Vespa about her brother, Von. Von is Allura’s father. “I called him to find out what was going on and he was beside himself.”
It wasn’t clear at first if Allura was still alive, Vespa gives credit to White for giving her niece a fighting chance.
“Jaquan White…. he is my hero. He is my hero. He could have ducked, but this 18-year-old was every bit of a man,” Vespa explained. “He showed the heart of father at 18 years old and protected someone else’s child.”
“He took on as many bullets as he could to protect her. He lost his life because of. I believe that’s why Allura didn’t die right away. I just want to tell his family, his mother… I’m so sorry. I pray for your family, your son is a hero in my life.”
Before their lives were taken, Allura’s aunt says the mother-daughter duo were inseparable. Berry also has a teenage daughter who she was forced to leave behind. Vespa describes Allura and Berry as “take-charge” girls, adding that Berry was always quick to help when she could.
“Takeyia was strong. She was also someone that would do anything for you. That’s what I saw in her. You see that smile of hers and that’s how she walked in life. She would jump through hoops for you.”
“She looked like she would be a wonderful friend. She has also had an innocence about her where, you know, she lived in a small country town, Manteo. In a sense, a piece of that town was in her.”
Allura, at just age 3, was also a force to be reckoned with.
“Allura, she was bright, bright, very smart baby. Beyond her years. One time, when they were leaving, Allura said ‘Come on mom — it’s late!’”
According to police, three others were injured and hospitalized.
They include a 40-year-old man, a 29-year-old man, and a 20-year-old man. All are Elizabeth City residents. They were all taken to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center.
Two of the men, the 40 and 29-year-olds, were treated for injuries that weren’t life-threatening and later released.
The third, the 20-year-old, was treated and then taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He was listed in stable condition as of December 3.
10 On Your Side spoke the area’s appointed City Councilman Michael Brooks.
“I would never get over the fact that a 3-year-old baby, a baby,” said Brooks. “We have to take care of the problem. Our lives depended upon it. We don’t know what that 3-year-old baby could have become. We don’t know. Because of a senseless murder.”
Tips that lead to an arrest may be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000.
The investigation is ongoing.