SBI: Home invasion, double murder not random
Family members say Antonio “Tony” Darnell Walker, 29, and his uncle, James Arthur Walker Jr. 43, were killed Wednesday night following a home invasion/robbery at the family’s home at 611 Fifth Street in Spencer.
Angela Walker White described the horrifying events that led to her son and brother’s death, saying three men wearing gorilla masks walked into the home. One of the masked men asked for her son by name and two of them went into the bedroom where she says they shot her son.
Her brother, James, who most people knew as Junior, tried to protect the family, which included her daughter, Jasmine, and reached for his own gun.
Angela White said her brother was beaten in the head with the gun and shot to death. Her son stumbled into the living room and died next to his uncle.
The Rowan County Emergency Communications received a 911 call Wednesday at 10:09 p.m. from inside the home where one of the women told dispatchers someone shot her family members. Responders with Rowan County EMS and Spencer Police officers arrived at the home where they found Tony Walker and Junior Walker deceased.
Spencer Police requested the SBI’s assistance along with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, East Spencer Police and the Salisbury Police in this investigation.
SBI Special Agent in Charge Tony Underwood led a Thursday press conference at the Spencer Police Department providing a few answers about the events that unfolded the previous night.
“There was no reason to believe that this crime was random. We believe these victims were targeted,” Underwood said.
He said investigators believe robbery was a motive, but as of Thursday afternoon the suspects were unknown.
Underwood said officials believe there was a reason the victims were targeted, but did not elaborate as to a reason.
Authorities do not have a vehicle description, but based on statements from Angela White and her daughter it is believed that the suspects are African American.
Underwood said the ages of the suspects and a description of them was not conclusive.
“The identities at this point are clearly unknown to law enforcement,” he said.
Angela White told reporters the suspects were wearing gorilla masks, but SBI and police did not confirm the type of masks the men were wearing. Officials also did not confirm whether the intruders were wearing gloves.
Underwood did say there’s no reason to believe residents of Spencer or Rowan County are in harm’s way because of these suspects.
“It does appear this was a targeted location,” he said.
Investigators do have some positive leads, Underwood said.
Officials spent Wednesday night and much of Thursday at the home, processing the scene. Police stretched crime scene tape around the front of the home and at both ends of the block. Throughout the day a steady flow of traffic, neighbors and other onlookers made their way toward the investigation site, many of whom asked “what happened” while others acknowledged they knew of the victims and offered condolences.
Just before wrapping up for the day, investigators began bringing evidence that included an interior door and unknown items in brown bags out of the home. One by one, the investigators were done, all stripped off their rubber gloves and their protective booties and loaded cataloged evidence into police cars.
Portia White, another of Antonio’s sisters, told a Post reporter at the scene that her mother and sister called to tell her that “Tony had been shot.”
Portia White said she was told her uncle was able to fire a shot into the air, but was then beaten in the head.
White said she was told the gunmen also had on camouflage and were wearing gloves.
She surmised her brother’s death was over money.
“He dressed well and they figured he had money,” she said.
Portia said her brother was known in the community and was a very giving person. He was a standout football player at North Rowan High and was All-County in 2003.
Angela White and her daughter, Jasmine, had just returned home from the movies and were in the kitchen talking to Junior.
“It was almost like a movie gone wrong or something. You know just three guys with masks — gorilla masks, coming at us and I’m like you know what’s going on,” Angela said.
One of the men put a gun to Angela’s head and asked “where’s Tony?” she said.
Two men went into Tony’s room and the other told Angela, Jasmine and Junior to get on the floor.
“We heard two gun shots in there with my son. He came out the room, stumbled out and laid on the ground. He died right there,” she said becoming emotional.
White said her brother tried to get up and said “just don’t hurt my family.”
The gunman began beating Junior in the head with his own gun.
She said “it happened so quick,” but also felt as though time had slowed.
“Everything took a long time,” she said.
White admits her son wasn’t perfect, but said he and her brother did not deserved to be killed.
She said he’d attended North Carolina A&T State University and lacked about three months of course work to graduate.
Tony leaves behind two children — an 11-year-old and a six-year-old.
“He was a good father, an awesome son,” she said.
Tony was the oldest of her children.
White said she questioned God about why this happened to her family. She said the family was close-knit.
She also questioned herself as to why someone would “hate” her son so much that they would take his life.
“I asked myself that. Why can someone just hate somebody?” White said.
White said her son kept to himself and didn’t bother anyone. She described him as a loner.
She believes the gunmen knew of her son.
“This is just a tragedy. Something I never thought would happen,” she said.
White said she was a single parent but taught her children “the skies the limit,” but can’t fathom why someone would want to kill her son.
She would rather see the gunmen arrested, charged and justice carried out through the court system.
White said she doesn’t want to see retaliation for her son and brother’s deaths.
She’s lived at the home for 16 years but said she’s unsure if she’ll stay.
“I don’t even want to be here now,” White said.
White held close a young boy who asked where Tony was, but quickly answered “Oh, I know, he’s in heaven.”
The young boy was Tony’s nephew, White said as she pulled him closer.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
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