On the evening of Frankie Jennings’ 32nd birthday, dozens of community members gathered at the Citgo gas station where, hours earlier, the father of four was shot and killed by a deputy U.S. marshal during an arrest attempt.

They formed a circle around Jennings’ family and lit candles and held balloons for the man some called “Pop.”

“Cover his children, God,” prayed Genicia Hairston of Mothers of Murdered Offspring. “Children that will grow up without a father.”

According to an account of the shooting provided by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Jennings was killed when one of the marshals attempting the arrest “perceived a lethal threat and fired a service weapon, striking the man.”

Jennings died at the scene near a cluster of gas pumps, his blood staining the concrete hours later.

[Deputy US Marshal kills Black man in east Charlotte while attempting to serve a warrant]

NAACP Charlotte President Corine Mack talks during a vigil held in memory of Frankie Jennings, who was killed by a U.S.marshal on his 32nd birthday. Photo: QCity Metro

According to the CMPD report, investigating officers recovered a firearm. The report did not indicate whether Jennings was holding a gun when he was shot.

“We’re out here mourning for our family,” Latannya “Scooby” Jennings, his older sister, said at the vigil. “This is not a way to celebrate your baby brother.”

“He was a kind person,” Jennings’ nephew, Zion, recalled. “He was cool to hang out with.”

The shooting happened at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has focused new attention on police conduct in Black communities.

Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, thousands of Charlotte residents joined protesters in cities across the nation for weeks of mass rallies and street protests. Four years earlier, violence erupted during protests in Charlotte after a CMPD officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott.

Originally from Brooklyn, Frankie Jennings, who was Black, had lived in Charlotte for about 20 years and owned an auto detailing business, the Charlotte Observer reported. He was the father of two girls and two boys.

The Observer reported that U.S. marshals were attempting to arrest Jennings on a warrant relating to an incident that happened in Carolina Beach, which is south of Wilmington, on March 4. The authorities there had alleged that Jennings committed three felonies stemming from a 4:30 a.m. confrontation. The charges included assault with a deadly weapon against a government official, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, and reckless driving to endanger, the Observer reported.

Late Tuesday, activists joined Jennings’ family at the scene of his death to demand an end to police killings.

“Until we fight back, things like what happened today are going to continue to happen,” said Lucille Puckett of Take Back our H.O.O.D.S. “We are sick and tired of seeing out Black and Brown people killed in the streets at the hands of those who swore to serve and protect us.”

Lucille Puckett of Take Back our H.O.O.D.S. talks during a vigil held in memory of Frankie Jennings, who was killed by a U.S.marshal on his 32nd birthday. Photo: QCity Metro

NAACP Charlotte President Corine Mack said the NAACP had fought for six years to ensure that police officers were required to wear body cameras, but she pointed out that U.S. marshals aren’t required to wear them. 

“We don’t know what happened,” she said of the events that preceded Jennings’ death. 

Mack noted Monday’s mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, where a 21-year-old gunman was taken alive after killing 10 people inside a grocery store. 

“Why can’t Black men get the same treatment,” she said. “What happened today was wrong.”

Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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