Was a hit and run in North Carolina racially motivated?
It all began on the quiet afternoon of December 23, 1988, in Greensboro, North Carolina. 19-year-old Ken Dungee was picked up by three of his friends en route to do some last minute Christmas shopping. The four young African-American men planned to make the hour and a half trip to Raleigh on the I-40 Highway. It had been a good year for all of them. The driver, 17-year-old Lavern Allen, had just received a scholarship to the Air Force Academy. Ken Dungee was a drafting and engineering student, headed for college in the fall. 17-year old Kenneth Newkirk had just received a scholarship to a local college. And 17-year-old Darius Bannerman was a high school basketball star with a promising future. On their way to the shopping mall, the four passed a car driven by a man named Grady Alexander:
A few moments later, Lavern Allen noticed a blue Monte Carlo closing in at a high rate of speed:
Still weary from an earlier basketball practice, Darius Bannerman was napping in the front seat when he was suddenly woken up:
Then, without warning, the Monte Carlo pulled alongside the boys’ car and rammed it off the highway. A few minutes later, police and paramedics arrived at the accident site. They found a horrific scene. Lavern Allen was trapped in the car for half an hour. After being airlifted to a trauma center, his leg was amputated at the thigh. Ken Newkirk had suffered a fractured skull and a broken leg. Darius Bannerman had a broken wrist and facial injuries. Ken Dungee was pronounced dead at the scene.
Beth Velliquette was the first reporter on the scene and spoke with several witnesses who described the assault:
Because of a lack of evidence, the police were reluctant to treat the incident as a crime. However, the victims believed that it was a murder. The driver of the Monte Carlo had a mustache and brown stringy hair. He was traveling with a woman who had blond hair. The wanted vehicle is described as a light blue Monte Carlo, with Georgia license plates.