Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Police search for man in fatal UALR apartment shooting

by Grant Lancaster | September 16, 2023 at 7:26 a.m.
FILE PHOTO -- Students make their way across campus in November 2017 after a morning rain shower at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

A man wanted in connection with a fatal shooting at a University of Arkansas at Little Rock apartment complex last week opened fire after demanding a backpack the victim was wearing during a get-together at the apartments, according to an affidavit by a Little Rock police detective.

The victim, Cornelius Johnson, 24, was attending a "kickback," or party, on Sept. 9 at an apartment at the University Village complex at 3200 Coleman Place when he stepped out onto the patio to take a phone call around 1:25 a.m., the affidavit says.

A man identified as Rayshawn Allen, 19, followed Johnson out and drew a gun, Donte Blackmon, 19, who said he attended the party with Allen and was on the patio, told detectives. Police arrested Blackmon later on Sept. 9, and he faces a capital murder charge for his involvement in the killing.

Allen told Johnson to hand over the backpack, Blackmon told police, but Johnson laughed at Allen and said he wasn't going to.

When Johnson, who Blackmon knew as "CJ," refused to give Allen the backpack, Allen pistol-whipped him, then shot him multiple times when he tried to hit back, Blackmon said.

Allen told Blackmon to grab the backpack, Blackmon told police, and the two fled in a vehicle that Blackmon said belonged to a friend. They went to dormitories at Philander Smith University, Blackmon said, and he hadn't seen Allen since.

Allen, who was still wanted on a capital murder charge Friday evening, is a student at Philander Smith, the affidavit states. Detectives found his student identification card alongside 9 mm shell casings and other firearms accessories in a vehicle that was seen on a surveillance camera fleeing the scene of the shooting.

That vehicle was located parked at Philander Smith, and Blackmon was inside when police served a search warrant on the vehicle. The driver, a relative of Blackmon's who was not at the party where Johnson was killed and was borrowing the car from its owner, was released without charges.

However, detectives were able to view surveillance footage that showed Allen and Blackmon walking back to the dorms at Philander Smith shortly after the shooting and Blackmon wearing a backpack, the affidavit states.

Blackmon told detectives the backpack in the video was his and that he dropped the one taken from Johnson in the UALR apartment parking lot while fleeing. The affidavit does not state what was in Johnson's backpack or if police were able to recover the bag.

Another witness verified details of Blackmon's story and said that Blackmon told them not to tell anyone about what happened as he was fleeing the scene, the affidavit says.

Blackmon pleaded innocent to the capital murder charge on Sept. 11, court records show.

It was not clear from the affidavit who the tenant was of the apartment where the party was thrown or whether the tenant knew the victim or the two suspects.

A spokeswoman for UALR said earlier that neither the shooter nor the victim was associated with the university.

On Friday, when asked if the school had determined whether any UALR students were involved or school policies were violated, Carrie Phillips, the school's chief marketing and communications officer, said in a statement that school officials were cooperating with police in the investigation and that any records pertaining to students were shielded under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Print Headline: Police search for man in fatal UALR apartment shooting


Sponsor Content