Charlotte shooting brings the world to neighborhood's front door

The place where Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot has become a memorial.

Story highlights

  • The neighborhood where Keith Lamont Scott was killed is quiet
  • It is inside Charlotte but feels suburban
  • Residents wonder why it took a tragedy to bring them together

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN)The neighborhood around the Village at College Downs is inside the city of Charlotte, but it feels completely suburban.

College students from UNC Charlotte a few blocks away walk along tree-lined streets. There's a mix of apartment complexes, some modest homes, big churches and big box stores in strip malls.
    But in the middle of this quiet setting, a makeshift memorial is beginning to grow. Tuesday, inside this townhome community, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was shot dead by police.
    And now the residents at The Village of College Downs are trying to coming to terms with having the world's attention at their doorstep. This didn't happen in another city. This happened here, in the place the residents say they've always felt was safe and peaceful.

    Maintaining the memorial

    "It's very scary that it hit so close to home," said Fostoria Robinson, who heard the gunshots from inside her townhome. "I ran out to see what was going on."
    But the sight was too much for her and she went back into her house. "I was through."
    Fostoria Robinson
    She didn't know Scott well, but she has taken on the job of tending to the small but growing memorial dedicated to Scott. She says it's the least she can do for Scott's family. "It's something they shouldn't have to worry about."
    On a table, covered by a tent, are candles, personal notes, balloons and teddy bears. One sign left at the memorial depicts a handprint dripping with blood and asks simply, "Why us?"
    It rained Friday, so Robinson removed water from the tops of the candles and took the wet stuffed animals. She said she was going to dry them at home and then return them.
    And how long will she watch over Scott's memorial? Indefinitely. "For as long as it takes," she says.

    'Nice enough guy'

    The memorial sits at the front of the townhome complex, where Scott was parked when he had his fatal encounter with police. Scott's family said he was waiting in the shade for his son's elementary school bus to arrive in the afternoon.
    According to police, they were looking for someone with an outstanding warrant when Scott got out of the car with a gun and didn't respond to officers' orders to drop it. Scott's family disputes this explanation of the events.
    The memorial at Village at College Downs.
    The shots that were fired that day got the attention of resident Andy Hooton, who has lived in the townhome complex in northeast Charlotte for 30 years. The sound of gunshots in this complex are unusual, he said.
    When he first moved there, it was so peaceful that "the college kids who wanted to get away from parties on campus" lived there.
    Hooton said he didn't know Scott all that well, either, but he seemed like "a nice enough guy" whom he saw almost daily in that parking spot, waiting for the school bus.

    Waving at the family

    Yolanda Haskins was more acquainted with Scott. She bought a home in the complex a decade ago when she moved to Charlotte from Washington, D.C. She says her daughter and Scott's youngest son went to the same school.
    "He was very friendly and always talked to the kids," said Haskins, who would often wave at Scott and his wife when they were sitting on the front steps of their townhome.
    She finds the circumstances of Scott's death and the media attention it's bringing to her home "mind-boggling."

    New bonds are formed

    Like a lot of neighborhoods in modern America, many residents at the Village of College Downs didn't really know their neighbors all that well. But now they do. Both Robinson and Haskins say the shooting has brought them all closer together.
    Keith Lamont Scott
    "We all have to stick together," Haskins said. "We don't have community day, we don't have cookouts or anything to even learn one another. So now we have to learn one another, because we never know now if this is going to happen to one of us again."
    But the reason for the recent bonding troubles Robinson.
    "It actually took a tragedy for neighbors to come out and start speaking to each other and to start sharing with each other," she said. "Why did it have to take a tragedy?"