Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dep Creek, VA: Mother of slain teen recounts hostage ordeal

An I.C. Norcom High senior died Sunday morning trying to save his mother from an angry ex-boyfriend with a history of domestic violence, according to the teen's family and court records.

Derwin "DJ" Watts, 19, died after a hostage situation in the 1300 block of Canal Drive in Deep Creek that also left Tanisha Watts' current boyfriend, Michael Temple, dead and the suspect injured.

"He was trying to protect his mom," Tanisha Watts' mother, Miriam Sharon Bazemore, said by phone, sobbing as she spoke.

It was not the first time the suspect, 44-year-old Charles Collins, had turned violent toward the family, according to online Chesapeake General District Court records. He was due in court Wednesday on an attempted malicious wounding charge related to his alleged attempt to stab DJ earlier this year.

The Pollocksville, N.C., man also has two previous convictions for assaults on women in North Carolina. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving time for stabbing an ex-girlfriend he had been trying to get back together with, said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Correction.

Collins is in Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where police said his condition is serious after a SWAT team member shot him in the head during the standoff. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of abduction and multiple firearms charges in Sunday's incident, police said.

On Monday, a shaken Tanisha Watts recalled the events that claimed her son and boyfriend.

Watts said Collins, whom she had dated for three years until January, had called her Saturday night while she was out to dinner with Temple. She told him to stop calling but said it was a calm exchange.

When they returned from dinner, she and Temple, whom she'd known from high school and had been dating since March, were playing with her 4-month-old granddaughter, Brooklyn, in her bedroom.

Unbeknownst to the couple, Collins had snuck into the apartment, she said.

Temple, a 40-year-old from Elizabeth City, N.C., walked down the hallway, and that's when Watts heard the first gunshots.

"I just heard pop, pop, pop," she said.

Temple staggered back to the bedroom, gasping for air, his T-shirt soaked in blood from a bullet wound in the chest. Watts tried to give him an inhaler he used for acute asthma and some water.

Shortly after, Collins entered the bedroom, pointing a gun at her. He grew angry while she tended to her boyfriend, Watts said.

Watts dialed 911 on her cellphone and blurted out the address before Collins snatched the phone and shoved her in a closet.

"I wasn't sure the call had gone through," she said.

It had. When police first arrived at the apartment complex, officers heard screaming and gunshots inside. Unable to get anyone to answer the door and unable to get in, they retreated and waited for the SWAT team.

Inside, Collins paced up and down the hallway, Watts said. He alternately pointed the gun at Watts, her son and even at himself, she said.

"I'm begging him, 'Let me and DJ alone. Let's get help for Michael,' " she said, sighing. "He wasn't hearing anything."

She said that at one point, Collins fired a shot above her head.

She distanced herself from Temple, who by then was on the bed and barely breathing. She hoped that would calm Collins, but nothing worked.

Her son also pleaded with him.

"Charles, man, you don't want to do this. Just calm down. You know us."

DJ tried to calm his mother, too.

"My baby did so good. He was so calm. 'Just do whatever he says,' " she remembers DJ saying. "I don't understand how he could remain like that because I was falling apart."

Watts eventually managed to persuade Collins to let her and DJ go. She told him she would tell the police everything was OK.

Collins walked her to the end of the hallway into the living area, where a couch and chairs blocked the door.

Watts said she pretended to faint. DJ stayed by her side, and she tapped his foot to let him know she was OK.

When Collins ran to the bathroom to get her water, Watts said, she saw her chance. She jumped up and moved the couch enough to open the front door.

Out of the corner of her eye, she glimpsed her son tackling Collins.

"I saw both bodies move," she said. "He came running past me, (saying), 'C'mon, Mom.' "

She ran out behind her son but noticed blood on his back. He had been shot in the neck and chest, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

As the SWAT team entered, Watts said, police outside grabbed DJ and handcuffed him in the confusion. She said she yelled to the police: "That's not him! That's my baby. That's not him."

"They didn't know if they were the good guys or the bad guys," police spokeswoman Kelly O'Sullivan said. "When you don't know the situation, and it's unfolding like that, they don't know who he is. As soon as they determined he was not armed or not at risk, that's when they immediately started medical attention."

Watts saw the medical personnel working on her son.

"He left in the ambulance," she said. "That's the last I saw of him."

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