Charleston police have announced an arrest in the recent shooting death of a Quitman County teenager, an incident that was deemed a "random act."
Police Chief Jerry Williams II said Terrance Brooks Jr., 18, of 4200 Rosebloom Road, Scobey, has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond pending a March 21 preliminary hearing in Charleston Municipal Court.
Brooks is accused of firing the fatal gunshot that claimed the life of Destini Jemerson, 16, of Marks, during the early-morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 26.
Williams said Brooks turned himself in at the Tallahatchie County Jail in Charleston at 4:50 p.m. Friday. At 5:30, he was formally arrested and charged in the case, said the chief, who added that no weapon has been recovered and no motive has been determined.
Ms. Jemerson had been the back-seat passenger in a Hyundai Accent traveling southbound in the 300 block of Martin Luther King Drive shortly after 1 a.m. on Feb. 26. Two males, ages 18 and 17, also from Quitman County, were in the front seat, having just picked up Ms. Jemerson from a friend's house where she had spent the day, said Williams.
The occupants of the moving car heard shots ring out, and Ms. Jemerson was struck once in the back by a bullet that investigators later determined had entered the vehicle through the trunk. The two males were uninjured.
The 17-year-old driver sped from the scene and stopped on Main Street adjacent to the county jail, where he ran in and yelled that "his friend had been shot," the chief noted. That report came at 1:19 a.m.
An ambulance was called, but the young woman was found lifeless inside the vehicle by responding emergency medical personnel, Williams said.
Police interviewed and then released the two males who had been in the car with Ms. Jemerson, determining the approximate location where the shooting had occurred, the chief noted.
While canvassing the scene, police were able to recover seven 9 mm spent casings and a cellphone from along the edge of King Drive, said Williams.
The casings and the phone were sent to two separate crime labs for processing, he explained.
Using information retrieved from the cellphone, according to Williams, "one lab identified Terrance Brooks Jr. as our suspect."
Police obtained an arrest warrant for Brooks from Charleston Municipal Judge Tara Lang.
The chief said he contacted a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force "to assist in the apprehension of Mr. Brooks."
Williams said it is believed that Brooks had remained in the community, lying low, ever since the date of the shooting. He noted that U.S. marshals had visited with family members of Brooks "a couple of times" before he turned himself in.
"On behalf of the City of Charleston and Charleston Police Department, our condolences go out to the victim's family and friends," said Williams.
The chief thanked Charleston Police Department officers for their "quick and rapid response to the call and Investigator Travis Nichols for the work they all have done."
Williams also offered "special thanks" to the Tallahatchie County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service Alabama field office, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and "to the citizens of Charleston and Tallahatchie County for their help in solving this case."