ATF’s NIBIN helps police tie a stolen gun to a deadly 16-month-old block party shooting.
The TV news piece link below chronicles new forensic intelligence recently developed about a brazen shooting – during which some 180 shots were fired - at a block party along Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte sixteen months ago. Nine people were shot -three of whom died including a fourth who was hit by a car.
Although the passage of time has faded and weathered the memorials placed at the scene of the shootings, the pain of loss remains fresh for the loved ones left behind. The article quotes Kenneth Stevenson: “You just have to count your blessings and keep the faith,” he said. His son, Darryion was one of the victims.
Today, our “faith” in crime-solving capabilities can be bolstered by the fact that forensic evidence databases have long memories.
Breaks in the case have been few and far between. Things changed when state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents were checking a club in August and found a handgun that ballistics tests have now tied to the shootings on Beatties Ford Road.
The gun had been stolen. They arrested the man who had it at the club. He’s a convicted felon but has not been tied to the shootings and may never be.
Notwithstanding, investigators have another piece of the puzzle and one piece can often lead to another like the links in a chain. A chain that may ultimately lead to a suspect.
It might not be everything that Kenneth Stevenson was hoping for, but he recognizes that every lead – every piece of the puzzle - sustains the momentum of the investigation and sustains his faith and hope as well. “Any news is good news, as opposed to no news at all,” Stevenson said.
There’s no question that investigators have more work to do to learn who pulled the trigger, but every crime gun holds a story, and this one may yet have still more to tell.
The news piece indicates that investigators were able to make the connection through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) – a national program administered by ATF in collaboration with its state and local law enforcement and forensic partners.
Channel 9, reported that ATF Group Supervisor Anthony Spotswood previously indicated that they’ve processed more than 180 fired pieces of evidence and determined that at least 10 guns were involved in the Beatties Ford Road shooting.
Every time a gun is fired, it leaves unique markings on the fired ammunition components. Images of those markings and their electronic signatures are acquired and analyzed by technicians and experts through a networked system of NIBIN technology modules that stretch across the country to link crimes, guns, and suspects.
Last December, CMPD said NIBIN led to 575 leads and helped take 23 criminals off the streets. Those arrested include Steven Staples, who was charged in five murder cases including the murder of Scott Brooks in 2019.
In addition to NIBIN, there are other forensic data systems like those used for fingerprints and DNA, as well as other technologies that capture information of value to law enforcement (e.g. gunfire detection systems, automatic license plate readers, security camera systems, etc.).
Hopefully, these systems will help police uncover enough pieces of the puzzle to solve it, and in so doing fulfill the faith that people - like Mr. Stevenson - hold onto in hope that they will find the justice, resolution, and peace we all seek.