Young mom shot to death on NC playground, toddler son shot in the head

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA)- Police in Columbus, Ohio say they have made an arrest following the shooting of a mother and son in Asheville.

UPDATE: Young mom murdered on NC playground was pregnant; More charges filed

Asheville Police say 24-year-old Nathaniel Elijah Dixon has been charged in connection with the murder of Candace Pickens and the attempted murder of her son. Dixon faces charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.

Nathaniel Dixon (WSPA)
Nathaniel Dixon (WSPA)

The Asheville Police Department says investigators determined Dixon left the Asheville area for Columbus, Ohio. A coordinated effort with the Columbus Police Department helped make the arrest.

Dixon is in custody awaiting extradition back to North Carolina.

UPDATE: Vigil planned after NC pregnant mom killed, toddler son shot in head

The arrest comes after a woman was found dead on an Asheville elementary school playground early Thursday morning. She was shot in the face and her young child was also found shot in the head.

Police say 22-year-old Candace Pickens, of Asheville, was found at 6:20 a.m. near Ira B. Jones Elementary on Kimberly Avenue.

Candace Pickens and son (WSPA)
Candace Pickens and son (WSPA)

The medical examiner says the 3-year-old is in critical condition.

One person who lives near the park said he heard a popping noise late Wednesday night that kind of sounded like firecrackers.

Candace’s mother, Keesha Martinez, spoke to local media.

“It’s just a sad tragedy that he has to grow up without a mom,” Martinez said through tears.

She says her grandson was shot on his third birthday and that she believes Candace was pregnant.

“The guy who did this is such a coward. He didn’t have to hurt her like that. He didn’t have to hurt my grandbaby like that. He took a beautiful life that I can’t get back,” said Martinez.

Candace’s mom says that the toddler came out of surgery Thursday evening and has lost one of his eyes. They have not been able to see him because he is isolated in a silent, dark room during recovery.

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