Authorities investigated 22 homicide cases in Tuscaloosa County in 2021

Tuscaloosa Police officers and investigators from the Violent Crimes Unit investigate the scene of a homicide in Snow Hinton Park Saturday night, May 29, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Six of the 22 homicides reported in Tuscaloosa County during 2021 involved victims who were under the age of 18, including one child who was just six months old.

The total of 22 homicides matched 2020, according to Capt. Jack Kennedy of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit.

In an email to media outlets, Kennedy said that out of the 22 homicides investigated by the VCU in 2021, 19 cases are considered closed after the arrest of a suspect or suspects.

Two of the 2021 homicide cases have been submitted to a grand jury for review and the evaluation of potential charges. Right now, the death of Travis Sheppard on Oct. 19, 2021, is the only homicide case still under active investigation.

The youngest homicide victims were:

Xander Myers, six months old: VCU investigators were called to DCH Regional Medical Center on Oct. 15 after the infant arrived by ambulance, dead on arrival. Xander’s grandmother told authorities that she called 911 after she found Xander in bed and not breathing. A death investigation ensued and the grandmother, Charlotte Simpson, 46 was later charged with manslaughter.

Raylean Richardson, 18 months: Raylean was brought to DCH Regional Medical Center by ambulance with breathing difficulties on Dec. 17, according to authorities. Police and medical first responders believed the child’s condition was suspicious. Investigators were called and began an investigation into possible child abuse or neglect. Life-saving efforts for the child failed and she was pronounced dead at the hospital. Joseph Earl Jenkins, 28, described as the live-in boyfriend of Raylean’s mother, was later charged with capital murder in the child’s death.

Kingston Ross, 13: Kingston was found dead on Feb. 18 when officers responded to a shooting call in the 300 block of James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway. Police said two men suspected of participating in Kingston’s fatal shooting told investigators that they acted in self-defense. The case has been submitted to a grand jury and no charges have been filed yet.

Xzorian Gray, 16: Xzorian was shot and killed May 4 while sitting in a vehicle at the intersection of Foster’s Ferry Road and 21st street in Tuscaloosa. Jashon Griffin, 22 and Johnneius Wilson, 17 were both charged with one count capital murder and one count of attempted murder in Xzorian’s death.

Kei’lan Allen, 13: Allen was killed Oct. 15 after a drive-by vehicle fired shots into a residence. Police responded to Washington Square where Kei’lan was found dead. Kei’lan was not the intended target of the shooting and he was in his bedroom playing on his iPad when the shooting occurred. Julian Gordon, 21, Jaden Jenkins, 19, and Deanthony Reed, 18, were charged with capital murder in Allen’s death.

Trinity Shannon, 16: Trinity was shot and killed Oct. 19 while inside a vehicle at a Northport fast-food restaurant in the 1900 block of McFarland Boulevard. Trinity, along with two other occupants, were waiting in the drive-thru line when another vehicle pulled and began firing shots into their vehicle. Police say the driver, who had gunshot wounds that weren’t life-threatening, may have been the target of the shooting. The other passenger was not injured. Kenderius Sherman, 19 was charged with capital murder and two counts of attempted murder.

The adult homicide victims were:

Sean Michael Barrett, 33: Barrett was shot and killed March 15 in an apparent murder/suicide at an industrial plant in the 1300 block of Commerce Drive. Officers found Barrett and another man dead in the parking lot when they arrived. Authorities say Demorious Polke, 27, shot Barrett multiple times before turning the gun on himself. Polke was posthumously charged with murder in Barrett’s death.

Omar Childers, 19: Omar Childers was found dead of a gunshot wound on April 15 inside of a parked vehicle at Springhill Apartments. Omar Childers’ cousin, Darren Childers, 26, was going to be charged with capital murder, but he was later found dead in a vehicle parked outside a church. Police say they believe Darren Childers died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Jamarqus Howard, 24: Howard was found dead April 25 inside of a vehicle when officers responded to Branscomb Apartments after receiving calls about a vehicle accident with an unresponsive driver. Investigators later determined that Howard had been shot. Raheem Davis, 25 was charged with capital murder in Howard’s death.

Lorenzo Deairos Graham, 21: Graham was found dead May 29 when officers were called to a shooting at Snow Hinton Park in Tuscaloosa. Police said that Graham’s 1-year-old son was present during the shooting. Davares Grayson, 27 was charged with capital murder in Graham’s death.

Kortnei Kelvontae Mills, 23: Mills was found dead May 30 by officers when they responded to a shooting call at the 1600 block of Mimosa Park Road at the Legacy Country Club apartments in Tuscaloosa. Charles Deandre Newton Jr., 25, Chakyla Scarbrough, 22, and Nelson Beville Jr., 20, were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Mills’ death.

Versaun Leonard, 19: Leonard was fatally shot June 12 during a robbery on Willow Lane, according to authorities. Justin Jenkins, 21, Bre Edwards, 22, and Quartavius Hudson, 21, were charged with capital murder in Leonard’s death.

Syibrieka Underwood, 27: State troopers found Underwood dead July 28 along the roadside of U.S. Highway 82 in Duncanville. Authorities say Underwood was fatally shot by her ex-boyfriend, Terek Herron-Antone, 32. He was charged with murder in Underwood’s death.

Christopher Lee 26: Lee died after sustaining major injuries from a physical fight with an inmate Aug. 3 at the Tuscaloosa County Jail. Lee was taken to the hospital for treatment, but died from his injuries hours later. Laquinton Richardson, 22 was charged with manslaughter in Lee’s death.

Larry Cameron, 24: Cameron was found dead Aug. 21 when officers responded to University Manor near Fifth Avenue and 30th Place East after a shooting was reported. Tobias Nickerson, 23, and Calvin Woods, 19, were both charged with murder in Cameron’s death.

Willie Haywood, 53: Authorities say Haywood was shot and killed Sept. 5 while holding a 2-month-old infant. The infant was also injured in the shooting. The infant’s mother, Lashana Henderson, 25, was charged with capital murder in Haywood’s death. Police believe the shooting resulted from a domestic argument.

Travoris Sheppard, 28: Sheppard was found shot and in critical condition by officers who responded to a shooting in Hay Court apartments in the 4400 block of on 21st Street. Sheppard was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center, but he did not survive his injuries. This case is still under investigation.

Maurice Jones Jr, 20: Officers found Jones, who had been shot, on Nov. 2 when they were called to the 2500 block of 11th Court. Jones was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center, but he did not survive his injuries. Cheyenne Gray and Ni’corian Robins were charged with murder in Jones’ death.

Shania Robinson, 19: Robinson was found dead Nov. 19 when officers were called to the Hay Court housing community on 21st Street after a shooting was reported. Jerrell Brown and Deramus Harris, 18, were charged with murder in Robinson’s death.

Michael Brand Jr, 30: Brand was found shot Dec. 11 when officers were called to the intersection of 24th Street on Greensboro Avenue on a shooting. Brand was taken to the hospital, but he did not survive his injuries. The shooting occurred about one block away from a nightclub as a large group of patrons were leaving the building, authorities say. The case has been submitted to a grand jury for review.

Christopher Gilbert, 39: Officers found Gilbert shot multiple times Dec. 26 when they arrived at the 1900 block of Dinah Washington Avenue. Gilbert was taken to the hospital, but he did not survive his injuries. Calvin Lee Willis, 30 was charged with murder in Gilbert’s death. The motive for the shooting is still under investigation.

John Weston Horton, 50: Horton was shot and killed Dec. 15 while he was seated in the passenger seat of a vehicle parked outside of a gas station in the 3800 block of Joe Mallisham Parkway. Police said the gunman approached the vehicle and shot Horton through the car window. Cornelius Rashaad Jones, 31, was charged with capital murder and shooting into an unoccupied vehicle. Police believe Jones was upset because Horton had begun a relationship with Jones’ former girlfriend. The unidentified woman was driving the vehicle Horton was a passenger in during the shooting.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Authorities investigated 22 homicide cases in Tuscaloosa County in 2021

Authorities investigated 22 homicide cases in Tuscaloosa County in 2021

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