Police: Killing suspect angry at life

The 31-year-old man who police say shot a teenager and two men to death in a Delaware Avenue apartme
Jovan Underdue
Jovan Underdue

Categories: Schenectady County

The 31-year-old man who police say shot a teenager and two men to death in a Delaware Avenue apartment was drinking and smoking marijuana and “started to get depressed about his life” prior to the shooting spree, said police.

Javon Underdue, of 27 Jennings Drive, Albany, pleaded innocent on Thursday morning in Albany City Court to three counts of first-degree murder, robbery and criminal use of a firearm.

He was arrested late Wednesday in the killings of Keynon Hankins, 16, Bobby Jones, 26, and Victor Anderson, 26, in a second-floor apartment at 190 Delaware Ave. Police said he shot each of the three young men in the head.

The bodies were discovered shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday by Jones’ girlfriend and, within hours, Underdue was considered a suspect by police, according to Chief James Tuffey.

Tuffey provided details on Thursday about the shootings and said that Underdue, 31, of Albany, was a “good friend” of Jones and the two met Tuesday afternoon and went to Jones’ apartment at 190 Delaware Ave. where they drank alcohol and smoked marijuana together for several hours.

According to Underdue’s statement to police, he “started to get depressed about his life.” He said that after several hours he became angry and began to think about his life and “when things were going to start to pick up for me,” the statement reads.

It said: “I just lost control. There is no sugar coating it. I took three lives.”

Tuffey said Underdue pulled out a handgun and allegedly shot Jones once in the head, then he shot Anderson in the head, and finally he shot Hankins. Anderson was at the apartment to listen to music. Hankins, the brother of Jones’ girlfriend, was shot as he lay on the floor in the apartment playing video games, according to police.

Tuffey said Underdue had been arrested in 2000 in Albany for a stabbing incident.

Dozens of family members and friends of the victims screamed and cried on Thursday morning and several had to be restrained outside Albany City Court during Underdue’s arraignment and as he was led away. He was sent to Albany County Jail with no bail set.

Several people held up pictures of their loved ones who were shot in what authorities said was one of the most senseless killings they had ever seen.

The raw emotion was similar to the anguish that erupted on Wednesday on Delaware Avenue as news spread among family and friends about the triple homicide.

According to Tuffey, Underdue left the apartment after the killing spree, which had occurred several hours before 7 a.m. Wednesday, though police did not provide a specific time. He went to his girlfriend’s apartment on State Street in Albany, where he hid the handgun and other items from the shooting scene, according to police.

He returned on Wednesday evening to his home on Jennings Drive, discarded some items and was contacted by detectives. He voluntarily turned himself in to police on Wednesday evening, Tuffey said.

During the course of the night, Underdue admitted to shooting all three men, according to Tuffey. Tuffey would not provide details about a motive other than to say that Underdue told police he was depressed.

“This was not gang-related, it was not an intended rip-off, nor was it a targeted home invasion,’ said Tuffey. “The individual arrested knew one of the victims and was in his home for a period of time. The one victim was his friend.”

Tuffey also said no one should assume that Underdue is “mentally ill.”

Police would not verify on Thursday whether a 3-year old boy, Jones’ nephew, was in the Delaware Avenue apartment at the time of the shooting, as reported by one of Jones’ relatives.

Tuffey also would not say if there were any signs of a struggle by the three victims prior to the shooting.

After Underdue was arrested on Wednesday, search warrants were obtained for the State Street apartment and for Underdue’s Jennings Drive residence.

Police said a handgun and marijuana were found at the State Street apartment late Wednesday and marijuana, money and Jones’ wallet were recovered at the Jennings Drive residence.

“This is one of the most senseless acts I have ever had the opportunity to observe,” said Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares, who was at the news conference Thursday morning at the Public Safety Building in Arbor Hill. Now that an arrest has been made and the defendant is in custody, the public can “resume life” and continue visiting friends and neighbors, he said.

Soares would not comment on prosecutors’ theories about the case, but he said they have a strong case against Underdue and he expects it will go to a grand jury very soon. “We will provide details as we sort them out,” he said.

Tuffey said he and police met on Wednesday evening with residents of Delaware and Morton avenues after the news spread about the murders and tensions were running high.

“I assure the citizens of this city we will continue to focus on street-level crime,’ said Tuffey. “We have had four murders this year. The first was over a woman, the second man (Underdue) was depressed. These are not the type of incidents we can prevent.”

He said police were never alerted to the shootings on Delaware Avenue and received no calls until the victims were discovered dead the next morning.

“We received absolutely no calls. The house never came up on the radar screen,” said Tuffey who said the last calls police received at the residence were in 2007 and 2006.

Jones had been employed in the Albany City School district since June 2007 as a janitor and had a young son. His sister said he was a good man and a hard worker and he had no enemies.

Hankins was a student at Albany High School. The two lived together in the apartment at 190 Delaware Ave. and Underdue had recently been invited to stay there.

Anderson’s brother was at the murder scene on Wednesday but was too overcome to say anything.

Underdue’s mother was a teacher in the Albany City School district prior to her death in 1998.

It could not be determined if Underdue was employed, but police said he has a 7-year-old son, Jovan Underdue Jr.

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