Family of a Raleigh 15-year-old who was killed in Greensboro are in shock after his death, a family member said Sunday.
Police found Christian O’Neal at about 5:55 p.m. Friday after responding to a reported shooting on the 3800 block of Central Avenue, according to a news release. He died on the scene.
“Everybody is like, ‘what in the world,’” said Matilda Perry, O’Neal’s cousin. “They can’t believe it because Chris don’t bother nobody.”
Perry described O’Neal, who played junior varsity football for Millbrook High, as a respectful, shy teen who stayed to himself.
“He has always been mellow and kind of to himself,” she said.
O’Neal was a sophomore at Millbrook High. He wore the number 33 as a wide receiver and linebacker for the junior varsity team, according to a Millbrook High football website.
Josh Bunting, one of O’Neal’s coaches, wrote in an Instagram message to a WRAL reporter that the teen’s “football family is upset and devastated by the news. He was a bright young man who had a ton of potential,” the station reported.
O’Neal loved playing football and spending time with his grandfather and uncle, Perry said. He was the oldest of five children, who helped his single mother with his siblings.
O’Neal was from Raleigh, where his family lives, but had been in Greensboro in recent weeks, said Greensboro Police Department spokesperson Ron Glenn.
Perry said that O’Neal’s girlfriend lived in Greensboro.
Surge in gun violence
O’Neal’s family set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to pay for his funeral expenses.
On the page, O’Neal’s aunt wrote that he was killed by senseless gun violence.
The fatal shooting comes as some cities are dealing with a surge in gun violence, some of which involves teens, amid the coronavirus pandemic and a rise in gun sales.
From 2019 to 2020, North Carolina firearm deaths of kids 17 and under jumped 88% from 56 to 105, The News & Observer reported.
Of those 105, 66 died from assaults, which is nearly double the previous year.
Children 17 and under injured by gunfire increased 15% to 310.