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‘He was like family,’ woman says of teen accused of killing her son

By Hannah Mackenzie

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of an Asheville killing suspect with gang ties.

Dionate (pron. Diontae) Whitson, 19, was charged with first-degree murder after police say he shot and killed 17-year-old Téylyn McAlpin on March 28, 2020.

McAlpin was found with multiple gunshot wounds near the Montford baseball field off Gay Street. He succumbed to his injuries at Mission Hospital.

A year and four months since McAlpin’s death, his mother, Javelin Duncan, is distraught with grief.

“We call him Tey; I call him tater tot,” Duncan said. “He was 18 years old. He would have been graduating this year. He was outgoing and lovable. He was an awesome child.”

Duncan, who lives in Charlotte, wasn’t able to make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye.

“I just wanted to hold him,” she said. “And tell him I love him.”

Asheville police charged two people in connection to McAlpin’s death: a 16-year-old male and Whitson. Whitson has been on the run since the shooting.

“Dionate Whitson grew up with my son; he grew up with my boys,” Duncan said. “He was like family.”

Whitson is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. Ashville Police Department Capt. Joe Silberman said Whitson should be considered armed and dangerous.

“We believe he’s being sheltered,” Silberman said. “Some of the intelligence we have is that he has a gang affiliation that is protecting him and providing him aid.”

Silberman confirmed Whitson is affiliated with the street gang Sex, Money, Murder.

“We know that they have members in our area,” Silberman said. “They’re known to operate here.”

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, SMM originated in New York and is known for committing “extreme acts of violence.” Fellow SMM members are believed to be helping Whitson evade arrest by moving him between Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh and the Winston-Salem areas.

“I don’t care if he was part of the Illuminati, he still needs to pay for what he’s done,” Duncan said.

Duncan said every day is a struggle to get up as she anxiously awaits the opportunity to confront in court the man accused of killing her son.

“I don’t want him saying sorry, because sorry will not bring my son back,” Duncan said. “I want to know why, why he did it. What possessed him to do something like that?”

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Whitson could be using an alias. If you know of his whereabouts, call 1-877 WANTED-2 or submit a tip online here. Per the U.S. Marshals Service, you won’t have to identify yourself or testify in court.

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