A Washington, D.C. employee is facing murder charges in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old Black teenager who he believed was breaking into vehicles.
According to NBC News, 41-year-old Jason Lewis was taken into custody on Tuesday (January 31) after surrendering to police, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said in a statement. He was charged with second-degree murder while armed in connection to the January 7 shooting death of Karon Blake, 13.
According to the arrest affidavit, Lewis told police that he heard noises as lying in bed at home and went downstairs “because he did not know if someone was trying to come into his home.” Lewis said he spotted a car and a group of “youngsters” wearing black and asked: “Hey! What are y’all doing?”
The police chief said Lewis first opened fire from his property at a “getaway vehicle that was parked nearby.” Karon “and another person who was unidentified began to run. At some point, Karon ran toward Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lewis fired a shot, striking Karon and killing him,” police added.
Karon appeared to be heading toward the "getaway vehicle" before he was shot, Contee said, but the car "reversed into an alley and crashed," per NBC News. The boy then appeared to run toward Lewis, but it's unclear if he knew where the 41-year-old man was standing
The affidavit states that Karon yelled “I’m a kid, I’m a kid” and collapsed after Lewis shot him. Lewis said he then stepped back and called the police.
In recordings of the incident, Karon can also be heard yelling “I am sorry” multiple times, followed by “Please don’t” and “No."
Karon also shouts "I am only 12" numerous times, according to the affidavit.
“Anytime we have a loss of life, especially that of a child, that’s something that really just pierces my soul, to be quite honest with you,” Contee said. “Here we have a kid who is dead who shouldn’t be.
“This young man shouldn’t be dead. But, he is, and now again we have to go through the course of the judicial process,” he continued.
Lewis' legal team maintains that he's innocent.
“While this is certainly a tragedy, once all the facts are heard, I believe that a jury will find that there was no crime here,” attorney Lee Smith said. “Mr. Lewis has dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting youth in the District of Columbia, which only adds to how distraught he is over the death of Karon Blake. Mr. Lewis and his family offer heartfelt condolences to Karon’s family and other loved ones.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker said he “continues to have serious questions about the handling of this case.”
“It took almost one month to press charges, during which the Ward 5 community was given few answers, allowing misinformation and speculation to spread,” he said.
Parker said the community questions whether the investigation would've been handled differently “if Karon’s background and circumstances were different or if Jason Lewis was not an employee of the District of Columbia.”
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