Court documents recently released in the Jan. 2 shooting death of a Kokomo teenager claim the teenager was shot during a drug deal on the city’s northwest side.
James Gray Jr., 16, was pronounced dead of an apparent gunshot wound at St. Vincent Kokomo earlier this month, and authorities have charged 18-year-old Cahokia, Illinois resident Jeremiah Neal in connection with the death.
Neal is currently being held without bond on charges of murder, a Level 1 felony, and robbery, a Level 2 felony. He has a status of counsel hearing at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, in Howard Superior Court 4.
Police have also charged a 15-year-old Kokomo male they also believe played a role in the incident, and he is currently being held at the Kinsey Youth Center on a Level 2 felony charge of robbery.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed through the Howard County Prosecutor’s Office, investigators believe Gray was inside a white Dodge Dart with his sister and her boyfriend when the incident occurred, and that he was shot just once in the left chest and clavicle area.
Earlier that evening, court records state that Gray received a text about meeting Neal and the 15-year-old at an arranged location to complete a marijuana transaction, and he had asked his sister and her boyfriend to take him there.
In the affidavit, both the sister and boyfriend told police they did not know the reason for driving Gray to that location.
While the Dart was parked, the 15-year-old approached the vehicle and got into the back passenger seat next to Gray, according to the affidavit, while Gray’s sister and her boyfriend were in the front driver’s seat and front passenger seat, respectively.
The affidavit claims that before a deal could take place between Gray and the 15-year-old, Neal — who was outside of the vehicle — opened up the Dart’s front passenger door and began a physical altercation with the boyfriend, causing a .9mm firearm that Neal had in his hand to fire and strike Gray in the chest.
Neal and the 15-year-old then fled the scene while Gray’s sister drove her brother to the hospital, according to court documents.
Authorities did locate what appeared to be blood in the area of the vehicle that Gray’s sister and her boyfriend said the teenager was, and police also located a spent shell casing from a .9mm in the back driver’s side seat, the affidavit noted.
Gray’s death was the first homicide of the year for the city, and his death marks the second time in consecutive months that the victim in a shooting death has been a juvenile.
Last month, police located the body of Dalton Wayne Fisher, 15, inside a vehicle near the Lincolnwood Apartments.
According to court documents at the time, the victim’s sister, 22-year-old Kyli L. Fisher, told authorities that the pair had traveled to the apartment complex in a black Pontiac Grand Prix to sell marijuana.
After the siblings were parked, two males then got into the vehicle, Kyli told police, and an altercation ensued with several shots being fired.
Investigation into that incident led to the arrest earlier this week of three teenagers, two of whom were just 14 years of age.
According to a Kokomo Police Department media release, one 14-year-old is facing a Level 2 preliminary felony charge of conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The other 14-year-old is facing a preliminary charge of attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, also a Level 2 felony.
Police have also arrested a 17-year-old male in connection with the incident, and he is facing a preliminary charge of attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 2 felony, the release indicated.
In addition to their arrests, Kyli was also arrested shortly after the incident on charges of neglect of a dependent, a Level 3 felony, possession of a handgun without a permit, a misdemeanor, and dealing a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.
The identities of the teenagers police believe to be involved in the deaths of James Gray Jr. or Dalton Wayne Fisher have not been released due to their age.
It’s also unclear at this point whether the prosecutor’s office will attempt to move any of the teenagers into adult court.