OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – The feud between two groups of teens that’s sparked at least eight shootings since February has turned deadly, just as Opelika police feared it would.
17-year-old Terrell Morgan was shot in the area of Chester Avenue and East Street on Thursday, September 15th. Morgan died from his injuries on Saturday the 17th after being hospitalized in Columbus, Georgia. Police suspect Morgan’s death is related to a violent feud between two groups of teens that escalated from a physical fight to a series of shootings targeting each other and family members.
Opelika police arrested two people in Morgan’s shooting. Twenty-year-old Eric Stenson Jr. from Auburn, AL, and a 16-year-old juvenile are charged with attempted murder. Their charges will likely be upgraded to murder.
Meanwhile, following Morgan’s death, back-to-back shootings happened in Opelika on Saturday night and Sunday morning. One person was killed and another injured. Police are still investigating, and can’t confirm if those shootings are related to the feud.
Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey and Captain Jonathan Clifton sat down with WRBL on September 2nd to discuss the feud. Both were concerned the violence would lead to someone dying.
“We have met with parents, talked to pastors and community leaders, and asked them to come forward and help us calm the situation between these two groups. But, unfortunately, even though we have made 12 arrests of juveniles for various gun charges, shooting into houses charges, drug charges, and gun possession charges, it still continues,” said Captain Jonathan Clifton.
Chief Healey adds an innocent life could be stolen because of a feud they have nothing to do with.
“They are not considered gangs, just two different friend groups that don’t like each other. Their angst has arisen to the level of shooting at one another and their families. It’s going to be an innocent person or a young child that may be in one of these homes,” said Chief Healey.
The first shooting was reported on February 20th along Cherry Avenue. Five teens between 16 and 18 were arrested on various gun charges. The feud settled for a few months.
Then, on July 8th, along Avenue A, three 16-year-olds were arrested for shooting into an occupied dwelling and other charges but not before getting into a vehicle chase with police.
Another three shootings were reported in July with no arrests, with shots fired into homes. Those shootings happened between July 20th and 23rd in the 400 block of S. 5th Street, the 300 block of Wittel Avenue, and the 100 block of 18th Place.
Another shooting was reported Sunday, August 28th, with two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old arrested for shooting into an occupied dwelling along Toomer Street.
Following Morgan’s death on Saturday, Opelika had two shootings, one deadly. The first shooting on Saturday, Sept 17th, happened around 8:10 p.m. near Auburn Street and Fruitland Ave. A man, suffering from a gunshot wound, died at the scene. The suspect(s) left before the officers’ arrival. The shooting is under investigation. Police don’t know if it’s related to the feud or not.
Then, eight hours later, another shooting with injuries in the 100 block of South 4th Street. This shooting happened around 3:50 AM, one person was shot sustaining non-life-threatening injuries. This shooting did happened in the area where previous shootings related to the feud have occurred. Police can’t say right now if they’re connected.
Police are asking for the community’s help; if you see something suspicious, or have any information, please the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at (334) 705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665. Tips can be submitted through the Opelika Police Mobile App. You can remain anonymous.