William Underwood turned 26 on Tuesday, only to be slain in the street on his birthday in the Cimarron Hills neighborhood east of Colorado Springs.

El Paso County sheriff’s deputies responded to multiple calls about gunfire and found his body outside his aunt’s home at the 1900 block of Shawnee Drive about 10:30 p.m.

Underwood first was identified by KRDO TV, whose reporter interviewed the victim’s aunt on the air.

Tonie Hayes told KRDO that her nephew and friends came to her house for a barbecue, and then he was slain in a driveby shooting.

On her Facebook page, Hayes wrote: “I think what hurts the most is trying to find the words to tell my daughter her #1 favorite is gone. No matter what he was doing when she called him to come over he dropped everything and was by her side from day one.

“My Fatty... Your tete needs to sleep! Please let me! Talk to me and tell me how to tell your cousin is gone.”

About four hours after Underwood’s slaying, deputies were called to a gas station about a mile away, at Peterson Road and Constitution Avenue. There they found another shooting victim, who appeared to have been dropped off after being shot elsewhere, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby. He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The violence disrupted the normally serene neighborhood of Cimarron Hills.

Resident Leonard Williams said he heard two loud pops, dropped to the kitchen floor and started to crawl.

Then, he said, he heard 14 more shots in quick succession, peeked outside and saw a body sprawled across the sidewalk less than 20 feet away.

“You move to neighborhoods to avoid or get away from (gunfire),” Williams said.

“But when you see it dumped on your front yard, it either shakes you up or brings back memories.”

The late-night commotion was unusual for the quiet area, he said, as most of his neighbors keep to themselves and retreat to their homes by 9 o’clock each night.

He said the fatal shooting prompted memories of gun violence, from his time living in Pittsburgh, to flood his mind.

“It brings it all back,” the 12-year Springs resident said, musing about the possible link between the city’s rapid growth and the violence that unfurled on his front lawn.

About 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, scraps of crime tape littered the gas station parking lot. Four deputies deliberated but could not confirm details about the second shooting.

It remains unclear if the shootings are linked. Detectives are still investigating both, Kirby said.

Williams recalled the police lights that illuminated his block through the night. Firefighters arrived about 6:30 a.m. to douse the blood-stained street, he said.

“I feel bad for this kid’s family. Just from my perspective, it’s another young black man gone from the world... It’s a problem.”


Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist with a specific interest in space exploration and environment. She watches way too much Star Trek and is working toward her rescue scuba divers certification. Liz joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

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