WILMINGTON — Nearly six weeks after a multi-victim shooting, the Wilmington Police Department held its first press conference Friday afternoon, sharing details about a deadly private house party with at least 40 attendees on Kidder Street.
Three people were murdered and four were injured after gunfire rang out in the dark party over the sound of loud music.
The police department committed over a month ago to hold a media briefing once more information became available. Given the low lighting and connection to gang activity, not many witnesses are cooperating, and WPD has not made any arrests. Once police arrived on the scene, only the victims were present and all other party-goers had scattered. “We have limited witnesses,” WPD Chief Donny Williams said.
WPD Cpt. Thomas Tilmon revealed several new details about the Apr. 3 incident, which took place just after midnight. Young adults and teenagers had gathered for a birthday party. When shots were fired, some witnesses thought it was part of the DJ’s set.
“There was a great deal of confusion,” Tilmon said. “Eventually, as people started realizing what they were hearing was real gunfire, there was a great deal of panic in that room.”
Those who tried to escape the room found doors were barricaded shut. Some of the few witnesses who are cooperating with WPD “don’t know what happened because the lights were off.” Officers had difficulty moving about the room because of all the gunshot victims lying on the ground.
Chief Williams urged witnesses to seek counseling and work through untreated trauma. If the witnesses are treated, WPD’s thinking is perhaps, repressed memories will emerge, giving them a clearer sense in their mind’s eye, Tilmon explained.
“This was an extremely traumatic event for all who were present that night,” Tilmon said.
The department collected “hundreds of pieces of evidence” from the scene, he added. They’re still waiting for the results of the forensic examination to come back, although the captain indicated eyewitnesses are more critical, and he pleaded with people to come forward with any information, big or small.
To date, 12 witnesses have either come forward or been “tracked down.” While some victims have been reluctant to speak, others refused to make any statements to police, according to Tilmon. WPD declined to answer whether the owner of the house is cooperating, though Tilmon revealed police are looking into possible charges against the owner of the home.
While WPD publicly acknowledged Friday the incident was tied to gang members, Chief Williams would not comment on whether heightened gang activity is occurring in Wilmington. WPD also did not disclose which gangs were involved.
“We’re not commenting on gang activity,” Williams said. “We’re going to focus on Kidder Street.”
More than 20 shots were fired at the party from multiple shooters. WPD would not comment on the possibility that a victim could be a shooter.
The detectives responsible for investigating this case have a “clearance rate far above” the national average, he said. So far, the investigation has been a slow and arduous process.
Detectives have uncovered a possible motive, but Tilmon said he could not disclose it, as it may taint a member of the public in a possible jury trial.
“This case is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with no image printed on it,” Tilmon said.
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