The teenager charged with fatally shooting a 10-year-old girl told police he used a community gun, one that “everyone in the neighorhood uses,” according to the statement he gave to police.
Jermayne M. Timmons, of 131 Clinton Ave., who stands charged with second-degree murder, said he retrieved the gun from under a shed near the Ida Yarborough public housing complex, where he had hidden it.
Timmons, 15, was taken into custody at Albany High School on Tuesday, and police and city officials discussed details of the investigation that led to his arrest during a news conference on Wednesday morning.
Police said Timmons was arrested after being identified as part of a gang that ran into another gang on May 29 down the street from where Kathina Thomas was playing outside her home at 445 First St.
Chief James Tuffey said Timmons fired a .45-caliber handgun at someone in the group. The bullet missed and traveled up the street from Judson and First streets before it struck Kathina in the upper torso, killing her.
Tuffey said the bullet was “intended for someone else” and there is no motive as to why Timmons shot at the group or who his target was.
District Attorney P. David Soares said that Timmons has been charged as an adult and will be prosecuted as an adult and that he came uptown on May 29 with the “intent to harm someone”.
“That bullet had someone’s name on it. It just didn’t have the name of Kathina Thomas,” said Soares.
Timmons showed a “depraved indifference to human life and engaged in reckless conduct when he fired a round from a handgun onto a crowded street striking the victim in her upper torso,” according to court documents.
In a one-page statement to police, Timmons admits to firing a shot. He told police that about 10 days ago, he wasn’t sure about the exact date, at 8 p.m. he was with friends down in Ida Yarborough when one of them suggested a bike ride.
They went to the corner of Ten Broeck and Livingston. “Eli asked me to go get a gun that I had hidden under the shed by the front door of 80 Ida Yarborough. I had a pair of pants that had a big front pocket, so I put the gun in my front right pocket. After I got the gun, we rode over to Ten Broeck and then went up First St. to Lark. ”
“We started to ride down Judson. When we got to First St. I saw 3 black kids standing on the corner and then saw 5 or 6 other kids coming down First St. on bikes. I thought one of the kids on the corner was reaching for a gun so I pulled my gun from my pocket.
“The 3 kids on the corner started to run up First St. so I fired one shot up First St. at the kids,” Timmons said in his signed statement.
He said at the same time he noticed about seven or eight other people up First Street and an elderly woman up the street.
The statement continues: “After I shot and before we started riding away, I saw 5 or 6 kids on bikes come riding towards us on Judson, I started riding north to Livingston . . . and went down a different street. That’s when I heard about 4 shots. I rode my bike back to 80 Ida Yarborough and put the gun in the garbage can in front. I put the gun back because everyone in the neighborhood uses the gun and that is where we keep it,” he said.
He said the gun was a semiautomatic. Timmons describes it as dull gray, with black handles that had black electrical tape wrapped around it. “I’m not really sure what caliber the gun was,” he said in the statement.
The weapon that was used has not been recovered.
In an unusual move, police went to Albany High School on Monday to arrest Timmons because of the severity of the crime and safety issues, said Tuffey.
Timmons, who told police he is in the ninth and 10th grade, did not resist arrest.
Police began making progress in the case on May 31 and June 1, and Timmons’ name came up early in the investigation as “someone who was on the street on the night of the shooting,” said Tuffey.
As for why it took 10 days to make an arrest, Tuffey said, “We wanted to make sure we had the case built so it would withstand any defense motion.”
Tuffey and Mayor Jerry Jennings went to Kathina’s home at 3 p.m. on Tuesday to notify the girl’s mother, Shondell McAllister, of the arrest. “We hope this brings some closure to the family and gives them a chance to grieve a little easier,” he said.
Tuffey fell short on Wednesday of calling it a gang- related shooting and wouldn’t comment on earlier reports that a fight between the two gangs preceded the shooting.
Jennings commended the police department on Wednesday and people from the community who stepped up and helped in identifying the young suspect in the “very, very reprehensible crime.”
“It doesn’t diminish the fact we need everyone to work together to continue to be proactive and understand what’s going on with lives of kids and give them alternatives,” said Jennings. “We’ve lost a beautiful young woman. Her family is grieving.”
Tuffey said police have to de-arm the youth of guns and weapons and de-escalate the violence and help them work out their differences. “We glamorize guns, and society as a whole has to take a look at this.”
Yet, he said, the city will not impose a curfew or conduct a door-to-door search for weapons as a means to that end. He said curfews are not effective in Albany.
Thomas moved to Albany from Guyana with her family less than a year ago and was a fourth-grader at Sheridan Preparatory Academy.
Her death outraged the community, prompting marches, and she became a rallying symbol of what was called the need to end the senseless violence in the city. Churches and members of the community put up a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. In the end, though, the reward had little to do with Timmons’ arrest, police said.
Tuffey said Kathina’s slaying “struck the nerve of the entire community and we should take this opportunity to find the necessary solution to why our youth resort to violence.”
Soares said Wednesday he had never seen the police department and community so galvanized by one case.
Just two weeks ago, in another shooting in Albany that left a young man dead, the greatest challenge for prosecutors was a lack of cooperation from the community in holding accountable the shooter, said Soares.
“In this case, the community said ‘enough is enough.’ We will not have any more children hurt by stray bullets. This child was taken not from her mother, but from the entire community.”
Detectives continue to work on the investigation and no further arrests have been made at this point.
Timmons is in a secure detention facility, though police would not say where. No bail has been set.
His mother, Mosetta Timmons, who was with her son when he gave his statement to police, told reporters her son was with the wrong crowd of friends and she offered an apology to Kathina’s family.
A grand jury is expected to convene Friday on the case.
Kathina Thomas was buried on Tuesday morning in a white dress at Albany’s Graceland Cemetery, 11 days after she was shot while she played.
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