Police make two arrests in Gastonia killing

·2 min read
Pictured with his father, Steven Peoples, right, Dee Sparkman, 19, was fatally shot in the Highland community of Gastonia on May 16. Gastonia Police have made two arrests in the case.
Pictured with his father, Steven Peoples, right, Dee Sparkman, 19, was fatally shot in the Highland community of Gastonia on May 16. Gastonia Police have made two arrests in the case.

Gastonia Police have made a second arrest in the shooting death of a 19-year-old Gastonia man.

Police arrested Ja’Kelon Duval on Monday, charging him with first-degree murder in the May 16 death of 19-year-old Deionte Sparkman. Duval also faces an attempted first-degree murder charge in the shooting of another 19-year-old man in the same incident.

Police say he turned himself into investigators. Duval was booked into Gaston County Jail at 5:53 p.m. with no bond.

On May 19, police charged 20-year-old Mary Elizabeth Bentley of Clover, South Carolina, on the same charges related to the incident.

Investigators allege she was driving the "get-away car after the shooting," according to Gastonia Police spokesman Rick Goodale.

She also remains in the Gaston County Jail without bond.

Police reported Monday they had taken out warrants for Duval's arrest and asked for the public's help in locating him.

"Investigators have determined that Duval and both victims were known to each other and detectives are asking the public for any information about Duval’s whereabouts," according to a release from the police department on Monday, May 23.

Police are still trying to determine how Duval and the other two men knew one another, Goodale said.

"There's nothing off the table yet as far as what this was over or how they knew each other," Goodale said.

Police on the scene of a shooting Monday afternoon, May 16, 2022 in the 600 block of Westwood Circle in Gastonia.
Police on the scene of a shooting Monday afternoon, May 16, 2022 in the 600 block of Westwood Circle in Gastonia.

In two separate 911 calls, callers described Sparkman lying in the road. One caller said that he had seen a white Porsche in the area. Bentley was driving a silver Porsche, while Duval is thought to have pulled the trigger, Goodale said.

Sparkman, who was known as Dee to his friends and family, was found in the street when first responders arrived to the reported shooting call on Westwood Circle just after 12:30 p.m. on May 16. He would die from his injuries at CaroMont Regional Medical Center.

Sparkman was a 2021 graduate of Warlick Academy and worked at a Gastonia Wendy's, although he was considering signing up for community college classes, according to his father, Steven Peoples.

You can reach Kevin Ellis at 704-201-7016 or email him at kellis@gastongazette.com. Reporter Kara Fohner contributed to this report.

Police on the scene of a shooting Monday afternoon, May 16, 2022 in the 600 block of Westwood Circle in Gastonia.
Police on the scene of a shooting Monday afternoon, May 16, 2022 in the 600 block of Westwood Circle in Gastonia.

This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Police make two arrests in Gastonia killing