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A dispute about splitting a $1,400 stimulus check led to the fatal shooting of four people, family says

Officials at the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service said Friday that processing the new round of stimulus payments has already begun. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

As new coronavirus stimulus checks were sent out over the weekend, an Indianapolis man allegedly confronted the mother of their infant, believing she owed him half of the $1,400 given to her to help her through the pandemic.

But Jeanettrius Moore did not back down from Malik Halfacre’s purported demand last week for $700 of her stimulus money, her family claims.

“He said, ‘I’m gonna get that money,’ ” Wendy Johnson, a cousin who said Moore spoke with her about the argument, told WXIN.

The domestic dispute allegedly ended in tragedy over the weekend when four family members, including a child, were fatally shot. Police announced that they had arrested Halfacre, 25, in the deaths of Eve Moore, 7; Daquan Moore, 23; Anthony Johnson, 35; and Tomeeka Brown, 44.

Halfacre has not been formally charged, but his preliminary charges include four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of robbery, Craig McCartt, the deputy chief of investigations with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said on Monday. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will review the case before bringing charges, police said. It’s unclear whether Halfacre has an attorney.

Family members did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Tuesday. The police department has not said whether the argument that led to the fatal shootings was about a stimulus check.

“That is still unconfirmed at this time,” a police spokeswoman told The Washington Post.

In a news conference Monday, McCartt said the shootings came at the end of a domestic dispute.

“We just know that there was an argument there that escalated to the point where he pulled out his weapon and started shooting everyone there in the home,” McCartt told reporters.

The incident is among the first instances of violence to reportedly stem from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.

Although violence over stimulus checks remains rare, some Americans have been accused and arrested throughout the pandemic in connection with allegedly stealing money. A New York man was arrested in April for allegedly stealing $12,000 worth of stimulus checks. In Texas, a man was arrested in May for allegedly stealing an elderly man’s stimulus check from his mailbox. Earlier this year, two brothers in Illinois were apprehended after they allegedly conspired to steal stimulus checks through the help of mail carriers.

On Saturday night, Johnson said Jeanettrius Moore told her that Halfacre returned to the house on North Randolph Street and repeatedly demanded to see her stimulus money.

“He said, ‘Where’s the money? Where’s the money?’ ” Johnson recounted.

That’s when Daquan, Moore’s brother, allegedly defended his sister and tried to get Halfacre to leave, the family says.

“Daquan was trying to save his sister. He was taking up for his sister,” Johnson told WXIN. “He stood up and said, ‘You cannot have the money. You cannot have her money.’ ”

According to Moore’s account to her family, that’s when Halfacre allegedly started shooting, hitting the mother of his child and killing Moore’s mother, brother, cousin and her 7-year-old daughter.

“He told her that she made him kill everybody,” Johnson told the outlet. “She made him do it.”

After Halfacre brought Moore and the couple’s 6-month-old child, Malia, to his car, he returned to the house to retrieve a milk bottle for the infant, the woman’s family told local media. That’s when Moore made a run for it, the family claims, desperately knocking on neighbors’ doors to call for help.

Neighbor Craig Jackson told WISH that he was waiting on a food delivery late Saturday when he heard a loud bang at the door. Instead of his food, Jackson said it was a plea from Moore: “Can you help me? I have been shot.”

“She was frantic. She was hysterical. She was in pain,” Jackson recalled to the station. “Her exact words were, ‘I am the only one who got away. He killed the rest of them.’ ”

While he waited with her until police arrived, Jackson said he asked her why she was shot.

“And her exact words were, ‘Stimulus money,’ ” he said to WISH.

Police said officers responded to a report of a person shot on Saturday night. They found a woman with injuries consistent from a gunshot wound, police said in a news release, and transferred her to a hospital in critical condition.

After she told police there were additional victims down the street, officers went to a residence 500 feet away on North Randolph Street, McCartt said.

At the home, police found three adults and a child who had been shot. Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services pronounced all of them at the scene.

Around the same time, Lorenzo Moore said he walked through the back door to find what happened to Daquan Moore, his brother, and the rest of the family.

“I [saw] all my family members in there on the floor dead,” he told WXIN.

Detectives learned that Halfacre had fled the scene in his Chevrolet Impala with Malia, who police believed to be in danger. Hours after an Amber Alert was sent out, police found Malia “safe and unharmed” early Sunday.

Shortly thereafter, authorities believed Halfacre was at a house more than four miles east of where the shootings occurred. What unfolded was an hours-long standoff between a SWAT team and Halfacre on the east side of the city that ended with his arrest Sunday afternoon, the Indianapolis Star reported.

It wasn’t the first time Halfacre had a run-in with law enforcement. He was arrested in 2017 for allegedly shooting a man five times, according to WISH. Halfacre pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of pointing a firearm.

Moore was released from the hospital on Monday, family members told local media. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses for the four funerals.

“I can’t even put in to words how hurt our family is,” family member Jamell Lewis wrote. “You never feel like this can happen to you.”

Family member Shawn Brown reflected to local media how he has lost several loved ones in recent years because of untimely tragedies like the one on Saturday. He told WXIN that he feels as though “the world was robbed” because of the deaths.

“I feel like this gun violence has touched enough people that y’all can go ahead and knock it off,” he said. “It’s been enough. Enough is enough.”

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