Authorities on Thursday charged a man who they say confessed to firing the shot that killed a 9-year-old girl in Ferguson, Mo., as she was doing homework.
De’Eris Brown, 21, faces six charges, including second-degree murder, in the Aug. 18 death of Jamyla Bolden.
Jamyla’s death struck a chord in Ferguson, a community that has been rocked by unrest centered on police interactions with residents. The girl was sitting on her mother’s bed and doing her homework around 9:30 p.m. when gunshots hit her home, according to police. Her 34-year-old mother was struck in the leg and later released from a hospital.
“While this does not replace the family’s loss, the apprehension of this suspect brings some sense…. that justice will be served,” Ferguson Police Chief Andre Anderson said at a Thursday news conference.
Brown, who is being held on a $75,000 cash-only bond, was apprehended with the assistance of U.S. marshals in the St. Louis area, Capt. Dan DeCarli said.
Attorney information for Brown, a resident of O’Fallon, Mo., was not listed.
The shooting did not appear to be a drive-by, several shots were fired, and Brown is not a related to the victim, DeCarli said. The investigator declined to answer questions about whether the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.
Jamyla’s grandmother, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she ran into the bedroom when she heard the gunfire. “I kept holding and holding her,” the grandmother told the paper. “I still have her blood on my hands. She was still breathing. I was telling her to just breathe.”
Jamyla was in the home just around the corner from where a memorial stood for Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by a Ferguson police officer last August. His death sparked a national conversation about the interactions between police and communities of color.
After Jamyla’s death, about 200 people convened to show solidarity. At a vigil this month outside Jamyala’s home, police officer Greg Casem — who tried to save Jamyla’s life — received a hug from the girl’s grandfather, who said to the officer, “You did everything you could,” Casem told The Post.
Anderson said “positive interactions with the family and the community” helped lead to the arrest.
“It was good old-fashioned police work,” DeCarli said. “You get out and talk to the community and follow up on the leads provided.”
Police Detective William Ballard said that a witness identified De’Eris Brown and that an informant told authorities that Brown had admitted to shooting into the Bolden home, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Investigators aren’t seeking additional suspects, DeCarli said.
Court records show that Brown appeared to be on probation at the time of Jamyla’s death. He had pleaded guilty in a robbery case, and in March a judge sentenced him to probation with the threat of a 10-year sentence.
[This post has been updated.]