By Alton Mitchell
Opelika Police responded to a call early Saturday morning of a person shot in the yard of an Opelika residence. When officers arrived the discovery made by officers would leave the community of slightly less than 30,000 people mourning the loss of another person as a result of street violence an issue which has plagued the small community in 2017.
According to the Lee County Coroner’s Office, a call came into 9-1-1 at approximately 1:22 AM on Saturday morning. The caller advised officers that a person was unresponsive in a front yard of a residence in the first block of Easy Street. Opelika Police and East Alabama Medical EMS were dispatched to the residence.
When emergency officials arrived they discovered a male victim unconscious and showing no signs of life. First responders noted the victim appeared to be suffering from a gunshot injury. The Lee County Coroner’s Office confirms the victim’s identity as Ladarius Marquise Cardwell, 19, of Opelika.
Lee County Coroner Bill Harris responded to the residence on Easy Street, upon his arrival to the scene Harris pronounced Cardwell deceased. Opelika Police quickly determined the cause of death to be a homicide. An investigation into the death was immediately opened by Opelika Police.
Opelika Police were able to quickly identify a pair of suspects in the case. Police began searching for two 16-year-old males, one from Auburn and the other from Opelika. Opelika Police arrested the two suspects later in the day on Saturday.
Opelika Police identify the suspects as TyKeith D. Webb, 16, of Auburn and Kevon T. Smith, 16, of Opelika. Both suspects were arrested by Opelika Police on Saturday and taken to the Lee County Detention Facility. Each is charged with murder and being held on bonds of $150,000.00 each.
The fatal shooting of Cardwell marks the 17th homicide in Lee County in 2017. Investigators continue their investigation into the shooting and ask anyone with information to contact Opelika Police at (334)706-5220 or OPD secret witness line at (334)745-8665. Information can also be submitted to the Lee County Coroner’s Office Secret Witness line at (334)745-8686.