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$500,000 bail set for two in shooting

by I.C. Murrell | May 16, 2023 at 3:37 a.m.
A 16-year-old boy was shot to death May 7 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Pine Bluff. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Two men face multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in the May 7 shooting death of a Pine Bluff teen at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Bail was set at $500,000 each for Deshawn Chapman, 20, of White Hall and Desmond Richards, 16, whose hometown was not listed, during a probable cause hearing Monday in Jefferson County District Court. Both face one count of first-degree murder, four counts of first-degree battery and three counts of terroristic act in an early morning shooting that left Tyler Thornton, 16, dead and five others injured.

Authorities did not identify the victim because he was a minor, but Watson Chapel School District officials confirmed that Thornton was a high school student there.

First-degree murder in Arkansas is punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison.

According to an affidavit by Pine Bluff police Det. Corey Wilfong, a woman and some friends were hanging out at the park at 629 Jaycee Drive, off Rhinehart Road, when shots were fired in the early hours of May 7.

Four people arrived in a black Toyota Avalon at Jefferson Regional Medical Center at 1:52 a.m. The Toyota had at least two bullet holes on the driver's side, and the owner of the vehicle suffered a gunshot wound to her chest. A backseat passenger, a visibly pregnant juvenile, according to Wilfong, suffered a gunshot wound to her neck area.

A Jeep Commander arrived at the emergency room and had sustained several bullet holes on the rear driver's side and rear windshield, Wilfong wrote. A passenger in the driver's side backseat suffered a gunshot wound to the back of her head near her right ear.

A Dodge Charger then arrived at the hospital and the occupants got out to help a male, who had apparently been grazed by a bullet in the back of his head, into the hospital.

"They stated [that] as they were trying to leave, the victim was running toward their vehicle stating that he had been shot," Wilfong wrote. "The driver of the vehicle stated they immediately let him in the car and drove him to the hospital."

The five surviving victims were treated at the hospital.

The victim, later identified as Thornton, arrived at the hospital by ambulance and diedof his injuries.

Two male juveniles, whose ages were not indicated, parked near the front entrance of the emergency room with a flat back passenger-side tire and several bullet holes in the vehicle, according to Wilfong.

"The two juveniles originally stated they were not at MLK Park but later changed their story and stated they were at MLK Park," Wilfong wrote.

More than 200 spent .223, 9mm and .45 caliber shell casings were located and collected, according to Wilfong.

Witnesses reportedly said they saw either a white or silver vehicle or white Chrysler 300 when the shooting occurred.

An incident involving Richards and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies occurred May 8, Wilfong reported. Richards was taken into custody and a .45 caliber firearm with bullets matching the brand found at the park on his person. Richards admitted to possessing the same firearm at the park, according to police reports.

Richards, who is booked in the Jack Jones Juvenile Detention Center, was reportedly found with the two juveniles at Miramar and Bay.

Richards told police he did not fire back at the vehicle but changed his story, according to Wilfong.

The following day, according to Wilfong, a witness said she saw Richards and Chapman at the park.

Chapman, who was booked into the Jefferson County jail on Friday, told police he returned fire on a Chrysler 300 with an AR-15 that was shooting .223 caliber bullets, Wilfong wrote.

"Mr. Chapman stated the gun was at his house, then stated the other two suspects had the gun, then stated it was at his sister's house," Wilfong wrote. Chapman reportedly asked for an attorney, ending the interview.

Print Headline: $500,000 bail set for two in shooting


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