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Charges but not motive revealed in killing of child in her Ferguson home

Charges but not motive revealed in killing of child in her Ferguson home

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FERGUSON • Charges filed Thursday say it was De’Eris Brown, 21, who fired shots into a home here last week that killed 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden. But neither court documents nor officials provided any suggestion of a motive.

Jamyla was doing homework on her mother’s bed when she was killed by shots fired into a bedroom window and wall from outside; her mother was wounded in the leg.

Late Thursday afternoon, a man outside the bullet-pocked house in the 9200 block of Ellison Drive, who identified himself as Jamyla’s grandfather, declined to say whether Brown was known to the family. He said the relatives might say more Friday.

Police said Brown was not related to the victims but would not say whether he had some connection to them, citing the ongoing investigation.

Jamyla and her mother, Kendric Henderson, 34, were not the intended targets, according to a source.

In court documents, Ferguson police Detective William Ballard said a witness identified Brown as the shooter, and an informer came forward to say Brown admitted shooting into the home the night of Aug. 18.

Brown, of the 9200 block of O’Fallon Lake Drive in O’Fallon, Mo., was named on one count of second-degree murder, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and three counts of armed criminal action. He was held in lieu of $750,000 cash-only bail.

U.S. marshals and St. Louis County police arrested Brown Wednesday night at a St. Louis area hospital, officials said. He was visiting a patient there, according to a source.

Brown is on probation after pleading guilty in March to two counts of second-degree robbery for a crime last year in St. Peters. A statement by St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar says Brown admitted that he and an accomplice had robbed someone. Brown was sentenced to five years of probation with the threat of 10 years in prison if he violated conditions.

He also had been charged with misdemeanor assault and unlawful use of a weapon for allegedly threatening an ex-girlfriend with a gun at her job at a Subway restaurant in St. Charles in 2014. That case was dropped “due to a lack of cooperation from the alleged victim,” Lohmar’s statement says.

Ferguson Police Capt. Dan DeCarli met with Jamyla's family Thursday to tell them of the arrest.

At a later press conference, he said detectives had logged 300 person-hours of investigation. “It was good old-fashioned police work,” he said. “You get out and talk to the community and follow up.”

DeCarli also serves as Major Case Squad commander.

The case began to break when Major Case Squad investigators looking for leads in the unsolved slaying of an auto mechanic in Florissant began knocking on doors. A witness told them they had information about a different shooting in Ferguson, according to a source. That witness helped Ferguson detectives identify Brown.

At a news conference Thursday, Ferguson Interim Police Chief Andre Anderson, joined by other police officials and Mayor James Knowles, said, “While this does not replace the family’s loss, his apprehension brings some sense justice has been served.”

Knowles praised Anderson and DeCarli, saying a new “community-oriented policing model” helped break the case. He noted he had seen calls for cooperation with police on this case from some people who had protested against the department after an officer’s killing of Michael Brown last year.

Police said De’Eris Brown and Michael Brown were not related.

Jamyla’s grandmother described the shooting of the girl to the Post-Dispatch last week, saying she heard gunshots about 9:30 p.m. and ran into the bedroom to find the Jamyla dying and her mother wounded. 

“I was holding her (Jamyla) the whole time,” said the grandmother, who did not want her name used because she feared for her safety. “I kept holding and holding her. I still have her blood on my hands. She was still breathing. I was telling her to just breathe.”

Police officers arrived tried to save the girl, but she died of her wounds. Jamyla's mother, Kendric Henderson, was treated and later released from a hospital.

Ferguson Alderman Wesley Bell, whose ward includes the crime scene, said Thursday, “Community policing is about the community and police not being distant from one another but being part of one another.”

He said, “When you start restoring public confidence and trust, the community will feel more comfortable cooperating and getting involved in the process and you’re going to see more days like this with crimes being solved and even crimes being prevented.”

Nancy Cambria, Joel Currier and Jesse Bogan of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report

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