A suspect has been arrested in the drive-by shooting of a “straight-A” Alabama teen who died after a bullet whizzed into his bedroom window, police and grieving relatives said.
James Deanthony Reed, 18, was charged with capital murder in Friday’s “heartbreaking and senseless” slaying of Kei’lan Allen, 13, in Tuscaloosa, where investigators believe Reed was targeting one of the teen’s older relatives, police said late Sunday.
Reed was jailed without bond and investigators expect to make additional arrests in the case, police said in a statement. It’s unclear if Reed hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Relatives told AL.com Kei’lan likely didn’t even hear the barrage of 13 bullets unleashed at his house, one of which sailed through his bedroom window and struck him in the head, police said. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I don’t even think he heard the gunshots,” cousin Corey Prewitt told the outlet. “I’m pretty sure it was an AR pistol that hit his head.”
Kei’lan’s mother, Christina Barnes, called out for her only son after hearing the shots, but never heard him speak again, Prewitt said.
“He didn’t answer after that, so she walked in the room and he was slumped over,” Prewitt continued. “She just grabbed him and was telling him, ‘I love you, I love you.’ An innocent child with a bullet hole in his head.”
Shell casings littered the street outside the boy’s home, police said – so many that investigators had to use business cards from their wallets to use as temporary evidence markers, police said.
“Last night, our Chief of Police had to tell a mother and a father that their little boy was gone,” Tuscaloosa police said in a statement early Saturday. “The parents and family of a 13-year-old boy had to stand across the street and watch paramedics drive the ambulance away after realizing there was nothing they could do.”
Kei’lan is survived by his parents, three sisters and a close-knit extended family, AL.com reported.
“It just happened out of nowhere,” Prewitt said on the deadly gunfire. “It’s a tough time and I can’t say we’re handling it well.”
Prewitt said his studious late cousin was artistic and tech-savvy who kept dozens of books in his room. A dictionary was open next to him when the gunfire rang out, AL.com reported.
“This was a very bright and smart young man, and they took his future away,” Prewitt said. “He was at the safest place could be – at home. He wasn’t a street kid.”