- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are asking for the public’s help in solving a rash of homicides during the first two weeks of 2017.

The Charlotte Observer reports (https://bit.ly/2jQ7A2L) that only hours after police held a news conference on Friday to issue the plea, officers were called out to investigate the city’s seventh homicide since New Year’s Day.

A police statement said officers were called to a home on the city’s northwest side, where they found a man with an apparent gunshot wound. The statement said Thomas Louis Beatty Jr., 52, was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Beatty celebrated a birthday on Jan. 3

Two shooting deaths occurred on Jan. 2, and police are looking for suspects in both cases.

At the news conference at police headquarters, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Police Chief Doug Gallant urged the public to call police or Crime Stoppers with information about this year’s unsolved killings “so we can clear these as quickly as possible.”

Police said Massaquoi Kotay, 45, was found shot to death in his African imported foods store on Thursday. He was killed during a robbery, police said.

On Friday, police arrested Desmond Jarmel Black, 20, on murder and armed robbery charges.

On Thursday night, Milton Ricardo Graham, 37, was fatally stabbed during an argument with his long-time girlfriend in northeast Charlotte, police said. Latisha Toloria Johnson, 31, was charged with second-degree murder. She was found with her family after leaving the homicide scene, according to police.

Police are seeking help in solving what they call the random shooting of 14-year-old Anthony Frazier in east Charlotte on Jan. 2. Anthony, the son of Kannapolis police officer Daniel Frazier, was shot in a car as he returned to a family member’s home after celebrating his birthday at a restaurant.

Also unsolved is the Jan. 2 fatal shooting of Natanael Jose Rodriguez, 22, and the Jan. 4 fatal shooting of Jabari Sultan Stewart outside his home on Stonefort Court in northwest Charlotte.

This time last year, Charlotte had only one homicide. It involved a man who was shot Jan. 3. The shooter turned himself in and police learned he and the victim were acquaintances who were arguing at the time of the shooting.

The city’s homicide rate for 2016 was at a seven-year high. The 67 homicides were more than at any time since 2008 and above the city’s 10-year average of nearly 61.

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, https://www.charlotteobserver.com

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