Police arrested a 15-year-old Albany High School student on Tuesday and charged him with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 10-year-old Kathina Thomas on May 29.
Jermayne Timmons was arraigned on the single count in Albany City Court early Tuesday evening after being interviewed for several hours at the South Station. Public Safety Department spokesman Detective James Miller said Timmons was ordered held without bail and sent to a juvenile detention center in Albany County. “He’s being treated as an adult,” Miller said.
Police officials are planning to release further details of their investigation during a news conference at 10 a.m. today at the Public Safety Building.
Timmons was brought to the Children & Family Services Unit after being identified as the shooting suspect Tuesday. Police said Kathina’s family members were notified of an arrest in the nearly two-week long investigation, and requested that no contact by the media be attempted.
Kathina, a Guyanese immigrant, was killed when she was struck by a stray bullet in the back as she played in front of her First Street home. Investigators said then they suspected the .45-caliber bullet that killed her was fired during a fight between gangs in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood.
Kathina was buried Tuesday morning in Graceland Cemetery. Her funeral Monday night at Blessed Hope Worship Center drew hundreds.
Albany Police Chief James Tuffey on Tuesday confirmed the shot wasn’t intended for Kathina.
“As I said earlier in this investigation, she was not the target of this shooting, nor was anyone on that block,” he told CBS 6, the Gazette’s news-gathering partner, during an interview outside South Station.
Tuffey also indicated the arrest came from a combination of tips and police work. He said the reward money, which eventually grew to more than $20,000, didn’t have a lot to do with the arrest.
“We knew who we were looking for,” he said.
Mayor Gerald Jennings said news of the arrest doesn’t end the need for a greater community involvement in solving Albany gun violence. He said the tragedy of Kathina’s death shouldn’t be forgotten.
“We can’t just let this become history,” he said.
News of the arrest drew a broad range of responses from community and religious leaders. Victory Christian Church Pastor Charlie Muller received word of the suspect in custody while traveling out of the city. “I’m excited about hearing all the particulars,” he said.
Last week, Muller and his congregation started a reward fund offering more than $1,000 to anyone providing police with information in the case. The Victory Christian Church is located on Quail Street, just blocks away from where the young girl was killed.
The Rev. John U. Miller, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Albany’s South End, was glad someone would face justice for the shooting, but dismayed it took so long for information to come forward.
“It’s a huge relief to a lot of people in the community,” he said. “But it’s very sad so many people knew who it was and didn’t come forward.”
Miller, who also is chairman of Albany’s Gun Violence Task Force, said the shooting demonstrates the need for police to stop the flow of guns into the city. He said the arrest of a suspect in the case doesn’t diminish the need to solve a growing problem in the city.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we have a much larger problem on our hands,” he said.
Rudy Ciccoti, a longtime Colonie businessman who contributed $10,000 to the reward fund, was pleased, but also saddened by the arrest. He said the boy’s age seemed to add a new layer of tragedy to the shooting.
“That’s a shame,” he said. “He’s only a kid himself.”