RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A memorial grows for Akiel Denkins as many in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood await answers after the 24-year-old was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer Monday afternoon.
Denkins grew up just several blocks from the intersection of East and Bragg streets, where he was shot and killed. Police say they were chasing Denkins because he was wanted on a felony drug warrant.
Tuesday, the State Bureau of Investigation formally identified Denkins as the man who was shot in the incident. Monday night, the Raleigh Police Department identified 29-year-old Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy as the officer who shot Denkins. Twiddy has placed on administrative duty.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said a gun was found near the suspect, who was previously identified by the family as Denkins. Police have not said how many times or where Denkins was shot.
Pastor Chris Jones of the Ship of Zion church, located just several blocks away from where the shooting happened, says he met Denkins in 2009.
“My wife and I were heart-broken when we heard he was killed,” Jones said. “We don’t know why he was killed, we don’t even know how he was killed, but it is a tragedy.”
Jones says Denkins was working to get his GED so he could get a job to help provide for his two children, who are 2 and 3 years old.
“He had some challenges in his life, but we truly believe he was trying to get his life together,” said Jones.
Denkins had been arrested 16 times since 2011, according to Raleigh police records. His most recent arrest came in December 2015 when he violated probation.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina NAACP said Denkins’ criminal record and the warrant for his arrest were not “a license to kill.”
“We must have transparency in this investigation,” Rev. William Barber said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Dozens of friends and members of the community left flowers, notes and balloons at a makeshift memorial for Denkins on Tuesday.
“The way he talked, the way he acted – I’m going to miss all that about him,” said Brittany Little, a friend. “He was a very special person.”
“There’s just this overwhelming sense of grief that this would happen to this young man,” said William Cooper III, a family friend.
As friends and family grieve their loss, community leaders continue to plead for patience and peace as investigators work to figure out what exactly happened.
“God has purpose in everything,” said Jones. “We’re speaking from a place of peace that God will prevail and that people will come together and do what needs to be done to raise this community up because this city is only as strong as every community here.”