Grandmother Killed Picking Up Granddaughter at Birthday Party; Killer on the Run

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Police need help finding out who killed a 63-year-old grandmother in North Charlotte.

Flowers and candles mark the spot where Wilma Jean Petty died Saturday night.

Known as “Ms. Jean,” police say Petty was an innocent victim.

She came to an apartment at Dillehay Courts on West 28th Street to pick up her granddaughter, after an 11-year-old’s birthday party.

“While she waited, her friend shouted out, ‘let’s fix you a plate, sit tight for a moment,'” explains Petty’s pastor, John Cleghorn.

Cleghorn says while she waited shots were fired, and Ms. Jean got struck and died.

Police say it happened after several people showed up who weren’t invited to the party.

“We are here because somebody knows what happened. Someone can tell us whether it was a stray bullet or she got caught in a crossfire or something else. Someone knows what happened,” Cleghorn said during a CMPD news conference on Wednesday.

He says Petty was a beloved member of the choir at Caldwell Presbyterian Church.

He says she had a “sunny spirit,” which helped in her work as a caretaker.

“Brought courage, joy, and meaning to those suffering in the last weeks and months and days of their life,” Cleghorn says.

Police returned to the scene, canvassing the neighborhood on Wednesday.

“It can be challenging sometimes for people to say what they saw and to do the right thing, but this family and this community deserves that information so we can bring closure to this family,” says Lt. Bryan Crum, with CMPD.