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5 Things to Know: FBI Investigates Shanquella Robinson’s Death

...and four more stories from Nov. 13-19, 2022

A picture of Shanquella Robinson looking directly at her camera with her hair running down onto her chest
Shanquella Robinson was reported dead on Oct. 29.

FBI Joins Investigation into Shanquella Robinson’s Death

The tragic case of Shanquella Robinson, a 25-year-old Charlotte woman who died during a trip to Cabo in late October, is now being investigated as a homicide after her family publicly questioned the original version of events as purported by the friends she was with when she died. Her family’s concerns led to more attention on social media, in-depth local reporting from outlets such as WSOC, and eventually a second look from investigators, who on Thursday announced that they no longer believed Robinson’s death was accidental.

According to Robinson’s mother, Shanquella’s friends originally insisted that she had died of alcohol poisoning, though it was later uncovered that an autopsy report listed her cause of death as “severe spinal cord injury and atlas luxation” with no mention of alcohol. After multiple other inconsistencies in the investigation, including a record that stated “Yes” in a column that asked whether the death was accidental or violent, authorities in Baja California Sur, where Shanquella died, announced on Thursday that her death is now being investigated as a femicide.

According to WSOC, many homicides in Mexico that involve women as victims are investigated as femicides until it can be proven that gender did not play a role in her killing. As reported by WSOC’s Joe Bruno on Wednesday, a video has surfaced showing a woman attacking Shanquella in what appears to be a beachside resort.

Shanquella’s mother, Sallamondra Robinson, told WSOC she recognized everyone in the video and that she had already been told people within the group had been fighting before she learned of her daughter’s death. Sallamondra told Good Morning America on Friday that all of her daughter’s friends gave her a different story upon their return from Cabo, which immediately aroused her suspicions. 

The FBI announced on Friday that it has also opened a probe into Robinson’s death. 

Central Market Reopens in Galleria

Nine months after the city shut down the long-running Central Market, an open-air flea market that operated at the former Eastland Mall site, vendors there announced they will open a new location on Galleria Boulevard in southeast Charlotte this weekend.

Organizers with Central Market Association and Action NC credited the hard work of vendors who called on city officials for help publicly and privately multiple times over the last nine months. The release also credited Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari for continuing to work on the issue following an ill-fated attempt to help with a relaunch over the summer. The release stated that Bokhari and Charlie Mulligan helped find the land and broker a deal with Daniel Levine, who owns it. 

“Since the City of Charlotte shut down their prior location, the Central Market vendors have been working hard to secure a new place and get back to work,” stated Action NC organizer and Central Market board member Hector Vaca in the release. “Thanks to their hard work and determination, they secured commitments from city officials to not only find land, but to assist the Central Market financially.”

The market will officially open at 1720 Galleria Blvd. at 9 a.m. today. Gates will be open for vendor setup starting at 6 a.m., and the market will remain open until 6 p.m. Sunday evening. Organizers plan to operate the market every weekend on Saturdays and Sundays moving forward.

“I feel really grateful for being able to start selling again, in this new place, after so long since our flea market closed on Central Ave.,” stated Central market vendor Iginia Rojas in the release. “We have been working hard for a new location and are now reaping the fruits of our labor. I am very excited to see this new space succeed like our old place.”

Police Arrest Church Youth Leader for Sex Crimes

Members of CMPD’s Crimes Against Children Unit held a press conference on Friday announcing the arrest of 36-year-old Benjamin Darmon, a youth leader at multiple local churches and at least one local soccer club who has now been charged with nine counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of sexual battery. 

Investigators say their initial investigation has identified three victims, all of whom are teenage boys. Damron reportedly met all three victims through his role as a volunteer church youth leader and coach, roles he used to take advantage of the boys and sexually assault them. 

Damron has been a youth leader or coach in at least four local organizations: Elevation Church, Mercy Church, Southbrook Church in Weddington and Soccer Shots. CMPD reps said those organizations have been notified and are cooperating with investigators. They said the incidents occurred at locations in Charlotte, Matthews and Union County.

CMPD asks that anyone with information about the case or Damron contact the lead detective, Detective Brennan, at 704-353-1940 or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. 

WFAE Content Team Announces Intent to Unionize

The content staff of WFAE announced on Tuesday its intention to form a union with SAG-AFTRA and become the first public radio station in the Carolinas to do so.

“As the hosts, reporters, producers and other content creators behind Charlotte’s NPR news source, our goal is to ensure WFAE is a safe and nurturing place to work,” stated the organizing committee in a release on Tuesday. “We deserve a seat at the table in making big decisions about the station’s future and in negotiating our wages, salaries and working conditions.”

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland added that more than 70% of WFAE’s content creators signed the petition to form a union.

“The pro-union, pro-worker movement is strong and can’t be contained by traditional thinking about where unions can and cannot succeed,” he stated.

Teen Killed in Double Shooting

A 17-year-old boy was killed in a double shooting at Fred Alexander Park on Tuesday evening. According to CMPD, officers responded to a shooting call at the park at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday and found two people suffering from gunshot wounds.

One of the victims, 17-year-old Damien “D-Mack” Gonzalez, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Their condition at the time of this writing is unclear. Gonzalez had recently become a father for the first time, posting about his son turning 5 months old just hours before the shooting

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