North Carolina Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) held a press conference Tuesday to announce a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Makiia Slade’s killer.

On July 24, Slade, a 9-year-old girl, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting near West Queen Street outside Edenton while sitting in the car with her mother, who was injured in the incident.

Steinburg said a group of people wanted to know what they could do to bring the killer to justice. After consulting with Chowan County Sheriff Edward Basnight, their plan was to offer a reward so as to entice someone to come forward with information that could solve the case, bring closure to the family. Steinburg said the donors to the reward fund wish to remain anonymous.

“By offering a significant reward, we feel as if someone is going to come forward and give us the information that will be required for an arrest and then convict the individual who committed this atrocious crime,” Steinburg said.

He spoke of how northeastern North Carolina takes such matters very seriously.

“We also want to send a loud a clear message to the rest of the state and the rest of the country that northeastern North Carolina and Edenton is not Chicago. While many of the deaths that occur there end up being a needless statistic – a senseless statistic and the names are forever forgotten – we are not going to allow this to happen here,” he said. “This isn’t the way we operate. This isn’t the way we live. We care for our brothers and sisters. We are all deeply offended by what took place here – we are hurting and we are grieving. That is why we are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the killer of Makiia Slade.”

Sheriff Basnight provided an update about the incident that occurred around 10:20 p.m. near West Queen Street and US 17 outside Edenton when Slade and her mother Shatory Slade were shot while driving home.

“All of a sudden, they hear something and think they blew a tire,” he said. “When they pulled over, they realized that they had been shot.”

Basnight praised the dogged determination by law enforcement to pursue leads and solve the case.

“We have exhausted every lead that we possibly can. State Bureau of Investigation has worked tirelessly along with the sheriff’s office investigators and they have done absolutely everything in their power up to this point. It’s not over,” he said. “Somebody knows something. We just need that one person to open their mouth no matter how small, how trivial the item may seem. If you know anything, we are just begging and pleading for that information.”

Anybody who has any information regarding the fatal shooting, contact the Sheriff’s Department by phone at 252-482- 8484 or at 305 West Freemason St., Edenton, NC.

SBI can be contacted at 919-662- 4500.

Basnight called for justice to be served.

“We can not have any peace in this community until there is justice for this family,” he said. “This family deserves it. They’ve done nothing but been so cooperative, so loving. The community has just drawn to them and shown them love. And I know that for somebody, it is eating at them to see this family suffer as much as it eats at me. I beg and plead, give us the information that we need. This family needs it. We need closure for them.”

Slade’s aunt, Felicia Ford, was emotional about the tragedy as she asked the people to come forward with information.

“This tragedy has...” Ford’s voice started to break and tears welled up in her eyes before she regained her composure. “It has been hard on us ever since July 24. It just seems like the days don’t get easier and it don’t. I’m not saying we are the best family, but we are a great family. We are well known in Edenton. Everyone knows us. I’m afraid that’s why someone isn’t coming forward because they did something to a family that they know. That’s going to be hard, but if you are a man, woman, whoever, stand up for what you’ve done. This is a child we are talking about.”

Ford challenged the shooter who did this to be brave enough to come forward.

“You shoot up each other, go back and forth – it’s nonsense, but when you affect a family when it comes to a child, that’s a different ballgame,” she said. “You put yourself at another level that you don’t want to be. This is hard. I just ask that if you have toughness – you can pull a trigger on a highway – hey, stand up for what you’ve done. I would respect you more if you come forward.”

Ford said she has worked for the state prison system for 20 years – self respect is important.

“I respect the inmates who respect themselves more so than any other inmate,” she said. “If you respect yourself first, you get respect. Even though you took our baby, I know that deep down inside that one day this family will be able to forgive – not forget – but forgive. This is hard for us.”

God will prevail.

“At the end of the day, we know God. We know that He will prevail,” Ford said. “We know that and believe that in our hearts. One day, this is going to come out sooner than what you think because right now, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you can’t even rest – we can’t rest – so how can you rest!? There’s no way possible. If you have any bit of heart, concern about a child, then you can’t rest. There’s no way.”

A guilty conscience eats away the soul.

“Just remember, what’s done in the dark will come to the light,” Ford said. “That’s a fact – not just for you who did this terrible crime, but for all of us. I pray that you can’t eat and sleep right now. That’s how I’m feeling – I’m human, but one day I’ll be able to release that when you come forward and admit to what you’ve done to this family.”

Powerful speeches were made by Don McQueen, Tony Riddick and NC Representative Ed Goodwin, R-Chowan.

“It is required of us as community members to step up and take responsibility for these kinds of events that happen in our community,” said McQueen, one of the key organizers of the reward effort and executive director of Elaine Riddick Charter School. “The taking of a life of an innocent child – no motive, no rhyme, no reason, no rationale.”

McQueen said the life of a child has no measure.

“That’s why I’m so involved in this right now,” he said. “I have always felt that if we and our community would take our responsibility, we could do more for community in saving lives than all the protests that are going on across the country. Yes, those are necessary – this is the time for that – but it is also our time to take our responsibility. That’s why we’re contributing to this effort to raising these funds to garner information.”

McQueen said somebody has got to know something – it’s always like that.

“I know in my community – somebody knows something. Somebody always knows something. Somebody said something. Somebody talked to somebody,” he said as he slammed his hand down on a table before raising his voice. “That’s how it happens. Somebody knows something. If it’s money, OK, but the life of a child – then even better to come forward for justice for this family, this child and this community.”

A local businessman and key organizer of the reward effort, Riddick quoted Scripture from the Book of Ezekiel about how God will hold the watchmen responsible; blood will be on their hands.

“Somebody saw this. God is going to deal with the perpetrator, but somebody saw this,” he said. “There’s no way that this could happen and no one else didn’t see what happened. This is beyond your bullets, your guns. God has already made it known that He will hold the watchmen accountable. So in order for you to ease your own punishment, your own burden, your own load, then somebody needs to come forward. Somebody needs to speak to this – a 9-year-old child should not have to suffer this way.”

Riddick offered context about what happened and what’s happening – violence raging across the land. He noted how 55,000 veterans were killed in nine years during the Vietnam War, but more Blacks have been killed during a 9-year time frame – roughly 67,851 – “worse than any war.” He cited federal data from 2018 when there was more than 16,000 deaths and murders – of those, 50 percent were Black – about 8,000 people. Riddick said the federal Department of Justice reports that 93-94 percent of murders within the Black community are perpetuated by other Blacks, not the KKK, not Nazi skinheads.

Riddick said this is important because if 93 percent of murders are committed by Blacks, this means that more than likely someone who is Black may know what happened to the little girl. Citing federal data, Riddick said every 28 hours a police officer kills a Black person, however, a Black person kills another Black person every hour and 16 minutes.

“We should be outraged equally about 28 hours or about one hour,” he said.

Riddick explained why he is passionate about this issue – Elaine Riddick, namesake of the charter school, is his mother. Riddick noted how his mother was sterilized without her knowledge after he was born – he defined that policy as genocide of an ethnic group.

Riddick spoke from the heart when explaining genocidal nature of gun violence and death in the Black community – God is watching.

“This is the worst form of genocide when people turn in on their own people and slaughter their own people without any compassion,” he said. “This is the worst form of genocide, so we all have a responsibility as citizens, as people to come forward because this problem impacts every aspect of this country… We got to look at ourselves, family. We can’t point the finger anywhere else. We have to look at ourselves and deal with this problem accordingly. If this problem doesn’t get fixed, according to Ezekiel, the blood is on our hands. We have a responsibility because I don’t want the blood on my hands.”

A retired criminal investigator for the Navy, Goodwin demanded action to solve this case.

“Anybody who knows something – you need to talk and make sure you talk to the right person. And you tell the truth,” he said. “I worked a lot of cases like this. It hurts. And the chances of solving it go down greatly the longer it takes, so that’s why there’s so much emphasis on somebody talking is being said by everybody (here today). We are better people than this in this part of the state in this country in this part of the world. Like Mr. Riddick said, ‘we don’t do this kind of thing.’ This is not us. We are better than this. And that’s what we need to be – better than this.”

Goodwin said all those years he was a criminal investigator, he solved crimes when people came forward to provide tips.

“I always found somebody who had heard something that was told somebody else that was told to them – then just run it backward,” he said. “Support your law enforcement, resolve this thing and join this effort. If you feel led to contribute some money to it, join this effort. Resolve this thing. Prove to yourself that we the people in northeastern North Carolina are better than this. Everybody get involved. Everybody say something. Never let it rest. Never let it go.”

Goodwin said people don’t take “this kind of crap” in northeastern North Carolina.

“You saw something, you heard something – then say something about it and tell somebody,” he said.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at