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Man charged in St. Louis murder that took life of unintended target

Man charged in St. Louis murder that took life of unintended target


UPDATED at 10 a.m. Thursday with details on a candelight vigil held Wednesday night for Gray.

ST. LOUIS •  A St. Louis man says he believes bullets meant for him after a dispute over $20 instead hit two women who happened to be standing nearby Monday night, killing one of them.

“That bullet that killed that lady was meant for me,” Jonathan Norman said Tuesday near the site of the shooting at the Peabody-Clinton apartment complex. “I tried to push her into the house but it was too late.”

Killed was Yvette Gray, 44, who lived at the complex. She was hit in the abdomen at about 10:45 p.m. and died later at a hospital.

Another woman, 22, was hit in the leg in the shooting in the 1400 block of Hickory Lane. Authorities did not provide a condition for that woman, but said she was stable at a hospital.

Joseph Horton, 26, of the 5100 block of Lexington Avenue, was charged Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action in connection with the shooting.

Norman, 25, who lives on an adjacent street, said the bullets were meant for him. He said he had fought with the alleged shooter earlier Monday, part of a disagreement between their families over $20. After they fought, the other man walked away, but made what Norman took as a threat against him as he left.

Norman said he was hanging around in a courtyard at the apartment complex Monday night when the man returned. He said he warned neighbors to get inside moments before bullets began flying.

Norman returned Tuesday to express his condolence to Gray’s family. Police were visible driving from street to street and around the front entrance of the alleged shooter’s home, a street over from where the shooting took place.

Norman said he can’t stop crying over Gray’s death.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I saw everything all over again.”

Sonota Topp, 27, was with Gray’s daughter at a nearby apartment when they heard shots, then discovered Gray had been shot.

Topp said she remembered Gray as being a kind woman who helped out many in the complex.

“She didn’t die of a disorder or a disease,” Topp said as tears flowed down her cheeks. “She was healthy. She died over a petty $20.”

Topp said the shooter didn’t care about life.

“It could have been anybody that got hit,” Topp said.

The complex was the scene of a similar shooting in May. 

J'Nylah Douglas, 7, was struck by a stray bullet from an apparent drug dispute as she played on a playground. She died later at a hospital.

Funeral services will be held for Yvette Gray on Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Ronald L. Jones Funeral Chapel at 2161 East Fair Avenue. The funeral will follow at the same funeral home.

Sonota Topp, a neighbor, said a candlelight vigil was held for Gray Wednesday night in front of Gray's home. Many teddy bears have been placed there in memory of her. Jonathan Norman came to the vigil to show his respect.

"He's being a man about it," Topp said of Norman expressing sorrow for Gray's death following a fight he had with her alleged killer.

"I appreciate that. We all held hands and prayed."

Patrick M. O'Connell of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Denise Hollinshed is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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