Police ask for community's help in finding suspects
HUNTERSVILLE – The town’s first homicide since October 2011 came as a shock to community leaders. The fact that it was a teenager made the situation all the more tragic.
Peter Michael Jordan, a 19-year-old Cornelius resident, spent the evening of Feb. 19 with friends at The Landings apartment complex off Sam Furr Road near Birkdale Village. Witnesses, according to the Huntersville Police Department, said a black Chevy Impala sped through the neighborhood, fired multiple gunshots and killed Jordan. Three or four black males were in the car, which drove off at a high rate of speed, according to Huntersville Police Capt. Kevin Johnston.
Jordan graduated from Hough High last year, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Police officers continue to seek out a motive as they comb the area for clues. Johnston spent most of the night Feb. 19-20, along with much of the police force, at The Landings. The scene at the secluded apartment complex was full of rescue vehicles, police cars and television news stations, Johnston said.
The police department hosted a brief press conference Feb. 20 to provide an update on Jordan’s death.
Johnston offered few details as to a motive or suspects beyond the car’s passengers, but said there are “persons of interest” relative to the case.
“If I tried to address a motive at this point, it would be pure speculation,” he said.
Johnston urged residents to reach out to HPD or North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers if they have information regarding the case.
“We’re asking for your help,” Johnston said. “If anyone can help us identify them, please come forward. We’re identifying individuals of interest. The persons of interest we’d like to speak with are the three or four black males in the Chevy Impala vehicle that left the area at a high rate of speed.”
Johnston declined comment on the number of shots, or whether they were inside and outside.
“If anyone knows anything else about it, what (Jordan) was doing the day before, who he was with, we need to know,” Johnston said.
The Landings apartment complex has had calls to HPD in the past.
“There have been calls to the police department from every part of Huntersville, but nothing of a serious nature like this (at the Landings),” Johnston said.
The apartment complex declined comment on the investigation.
‘Town is still safe’
Police officials and town leaders regard Jordan’s shooting in two ways: It’s an awful tragedy, but it was an anomaly.
Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent – who is the acting head of Huntersville public safety as the town seeks a police chief – said the low homicide rate in town speaks to the good job the police department does.
“Our community is safer, but understand that crimes of this nature are very rare for Huntersville,” Vincent said. “You may see a heavier (police) presence (throughout the town) since this horrible crime, but the community is safe.”
Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said the town’s police force keeps residents safe.
“My understanding is that this was an isolated, though tragic, incident,” she said. “This is certainly not indicative of any trend. I am so sad for the victim's family."
Johnston said the police department is doing what it can to soothe residents’ concerns.
“We’re going to continue what we’ve been doing,” he said. “This appears to be an isolated incident. We are going to be in The Landings for the next week (or more). “We’re going to help that community recover. Huntersville’s a safe place, it’s been a safe place, and it’s going to continue to be a safe place. We’re going to do everything in our power to keep it that way. We want to be part of the community. We’re there to facilitate their needs.”
No affect on police chief search
One aspect that sets this homicide investigation apart from the previous one in 2011 is that there’s no police chief on which residents can lean for support.
Phil Potter retired as Huntersville’s chief last August after a nine-year run as the head of the town’s police department. His retirement didn’t last long.
Potter took a job in Alcoa, Tenn., a small town with a population about one-sixth of Huntersville’s (50,000-ish to 8,500).
Deputy Police Chief Michael Kee left in November. Vincent took over leadership since then, but the department’s captains, Johnston said, have a key role in day-to-day operations.
One-hundred seventeen people applied for the police chief job, according to Town Manager Greg Ferguson.
The five-month search process, Johnston said, won’t be stalled by the murder investigation, or vice versa.
“(The police chief search) is irrelevant to this,” he said. “No issue.”
Recently promoted Lt. Andrew Dempski is leading the department’s criminal investigations division, which oversees the Jordan murder case.
Ferguson told The Herald Weekly on Feb. 24 that the chief search has been shortened to eight candidates, with a further round – cutting the list to four – expected to come soon.
Jordan tributes come in
Jordan's funeral was held Feb. 23 at Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home. His family set up The Memorial Fund for Peter Michael Jordan, which residents can donate to at any Wells Fargo bank.
Family members also set up a Facebook page, “In Loving Memory of Peter Michael Jordan,” on Feb. 23.
Jordan was the brother-in-law to Christine Mahoney-Jordan, who posted on Feb. 25: “Today I had to go to work like nothing happened. Our lives have changed forever. No one could have ever asked for a better brother-in-law. Thank you for being the person that you were. Thank you for accepting me as your second sister Christine. I am grateful for the memories I have of you (and) they will be forever in my heart.”
Jordan’s brother, Tommy, and sister, Christine, posted photos on the page – which drew dozens of supporting comments from those who knew Jordan.
Jordan’s family requests privacy and is still grieving.
“They just lost their 19-year-old,” Johnston said. “They’re doing exactly as any other family would in those circumstances.”