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Woman remembers friend killed in drive-by shooting


Friends and officials have left flowers, notes and teddy bears at the door of Karen Lynn Speight, 58, who was killed in a drive-by shooting on Concord Drive on Dec. 30, 2016.


Beth Velliquette

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Last Friday afternoon, Darlene Person was babysitting her niece’s children — a toddler and a baby — when she looked out the window of her apartment and saw a vehicle stop in the parking lot. She then heard what she thought were firecrackers.

It was Dec. 30, about 3 p.m., and as she watched, she realized it wasn’t fireworks. A young man was firing a gun at the apartments at 122 Concord Drive. There was a driver and a passenger, and the vehicle was facing the exit of the Sedgefield Apartments, she said.

“They were sitting right here,” she said pointing at the parking lot. “They parked their car or truck or whatever it was. I said, ‘What in the world is going on?’”

Some witnesses later said it was a car; others said it was a truck, but Person said the vehicle looked like a Jeep.

“When they parked, he just started shooting, shooting, shooting,” she said.

The man was firing at apartments at the end of the No. 122 building, a two-story brick building with eight apartments.

She called 911 to report someone had fired shots, but it didn’t occur to her that anybody had been hit. After the vehicle sped away, she opened her door and looked outside. 

She saw the daughter of Karen Lynn Speight at the door of Speight’s apartment, which is the downstairs apartment at the end of the building. 

“She opened the door and said, ‘My mama got shot in the head!’ They were long gone after that,” Person said, referring to the two men in the vehicle.

Other neighbors who heard the shots also began looking out of their apartments. When they heard that Speight had been hit, they rushed to Speight’s apartment to see if they could help, Person said.

Person went into the apartment and saw her friend on the kitchen floor. There was a lot of blood, and another neighbor began performing CPR, she said.

Police and EMS arrived and asked them all to leave. An ambulance took the 58-year-old Speight to the emergency room at Vidant Medical Center, but she died from her wound.

“She called me that night and said, ‘Mama’s gone,’” Person said of Speight’s daughter.

Person can’t believe her friend is gone and that she died in a drive-by shooting. She remembers her friend liked to sit in a chair next to the front window, and she thinks that was where she was when the shooter began firing. The living room and the kitchen area are in an L-shaped room at the front of the apartment, she said.

“We were real close friends,” Person said of Speight. “I was always checking on her, and she was always calling me.”

Speight was a good woman and didn’t bother anyone, she said. 

Person said she is scared by what happened and does not feel safe anymore.

“I’m so freaked out,” she said. “I’m scared to go out of my own house.”

She hopes the police do something quickly.

“I”m so scared they’re going to come right back and do the same thing,” Person said. “Concord isn’t going to be the same knowing that she got killed in a drive-by.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Kristen Hunter, spokeswoman for the Greenville Police Department, which is investigating the homicide, said there were no updates on the case and that no arrests have been made.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday at Hemby-Willoughby Funeral Home, according to its website.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566. 


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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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