Arteise Brown, a 24-year-old mother of two, was walking with a friend and two children on April 28, 2015, in their Delaware neighborhood, when 13 shots rang out.
Brown fell to the grown after a bullet struck her in the lower back. Medics attempted to revive her on the sidewalk and in the ambulance, but despite their efforts, she died at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington.
Another 19-year-old woman was also hit in her upper thigh by a bullet as she stepped out of her car. She survived her injuries.
On Tuesday, state prosecutors were forced to drop charges against Mateo Pinkston, the Wilmington man identified as the shooter, USA Today reports. The only witness who agreed to testify recanted her statement, saying she did not actually see Pinkston and only identified him because that was “the word on the street.”
Pinkston was arrested in May 2015 and faced second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and weapons charges in connection with the shooting.
After the witness backpedaled, prosecutors were left with no choice but to drop the charges and release the defendant from jail.
Authorities are now asking for the public’s help to come forward with any leads identifying who shot Brown. They believe at least one person can corroborate the shooter’s identity.
“Having the cooperation of those who know what happened and can identify perpetrators of violent crimes is necessary to successfully prosecute these criminals,” police spokesman Carl Kanefsky said.
A previously sealed affidavit revealed officers interviewed six witnesses and the surviving 19-year-old victim. Two witnesses were able to identify Pinkston as the shooter, but other accounts differed in regards to the chain of events.
Pinkston has already been convicted of two felonies and charged with multiple crimes in the past eight years, including the shooting death of a 22-year-old man in 2009. Charges in that case were eventually dropped.
In 2011, he was accused of taking a man’s cell phone after walking up to him with a gun and in 2012, he admitted to second-degree robbery and terroristic threatening, serving a 12-month jail sentence.
After his release from jail in 2012, he was arrested and charged with Brown’s murder.
Wilmington faces a steady rise in gun violence. So far this year, 68 people have been shot and 13 have died, according to USA Today.
SOURCES: USA Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter