Andrew Dys

Rock Hill family will march to protest violence and killing

Latoya Cureton
Latoya Cureton

The worst word for any family, when a loved one is shot down, is “unsolved.”

It makes people feel like they somehow have been forgotten, that there is no more hope.

For the Cureton family of Rock Hill, the word “unsolved” hurts. It is a reminder that on Aug. 5, Latoya Cureton, 27, was shot several times and left dead in the back yard of a vacant home on Green Street. She was found just a few blocks from where she grew up and where her grandmother, Rose Cureton, lives still.

Rose Cureton’s home is where uncountable young people have found a hot meal, advice, hope and refuge from the streets.

“Our door was always open to help people,” she said. “It still is.”

But until her granddaughter’s killer is caught, the door at the Cureton house is heavy.

William “Q-Rock” Cureton – Rose Cureton’s son and Latoya Cureton’s uncle – is a coach and teaching assistant at Northwestern High School.

William Cureton – who teaches young people to grab the best in life, to not fall prey to the streets – remains positive.

“I have great faith in God and in the police that this case will be solved and that whoever did this to my niece will be captured,” he said.

Latoya Cureton had been back in Rock Hill a few weeks after a stint in prison on a grand larceny conviction. She had struggled with substance abuse.

Rock Hill police detectives do not believe two other shooting cases in the same neighborhood four days later are connected to Cureton’s death, said Capt. Mark Bollinger, a police spokesman. Quinteris Miller, 17, of Rock Hill, is charged with murder stemming from an Aug. 9 shooting death on Frank Street and attempted murder stemming from a shooting incident the same day in which several people were targeted.

Detectives have received several tips about Cureton’s murder and continue to investigate, Bollinger said, but no one has been charged in her death. Detectives have researched Cureton’s past and acquaintances.

“The case is still active,” Bollinger said. “We are still receiving information, and we are acting on that information.”

Beyond that, police have declined to release any more details about the investigation.

Members of Cureton’s family want people to remember that, in spite of her legal troubles, she was a woman whose family wanted to help her find a way to a better life.

“Latoya didn’t deserve what happened to her,” said Liz McKnight, an aunt.

“I would like some answers,” Rose Cureton said. “We all want answers, but we have to keep helping.”

The family has organized a “Justice for Toya” rally and march for 11 a.m. Saturday. It is not dedicated just to the memory of Latoya Cureton but also to the victims and families of so many killings in Rock Hill in recent years – several of which also remain unsolved.

After Cureton was shot and killed, Alice Walker of Rock Hill spoke up again about unsolved killings. Her son, Daniel Ervin, was shot and killed in 2013 on Pebble Road. No one has been arrested.

Her son’s killing, and all murders, need to be solved and the killers arrested, Walker said. The families never forget the unsolveds.

Unsolved killings run the gamut.

Cora Campbell, elderly, white, was stabbed to death in late 2012. A handyman went to prison for stealing from her, but he was never charged in connection with her death.

The killings of black victims Elonia Ware, Alexander Hardin, Arthur Massad, Jamar Ferguson remain unsolved.

Malek Salem, of Yemeni heritage, was killed in 2010.

There are other unsolveds, over the years, too. Unsolved violence hammers all races.

“Every life matters,” Rose Cureton said. “It does not matter if a person who was killed was black or white. There have been people killed in this city for too long and it has to stop.

“The violence has to stop, and the people who know something need to do the right thing and tell the police what they know.”

“Justice for Toya” march

When: Sat., Sept. 26, 11 a.m.

Who: Coordinated by family of murder victim Latoya Cureton

Where: Starts at corner of Marion and Saluda streets in Rock Hill, heads west to Green Street to Moore Street Park, across the street from where Cureton was killed.

Anyone wishing to buy a “Justice for Toya” t-shirt that family and supporters will wear on the day of the march can contact Liz McKnight at ecmcknight25@yahoo.com.

Crimestoppers: Anyone with information about the Aug. 5 killing of Latoya Cureton is asked to call York County Crimestoppers at 1-877-409-4321.

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