Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TOP STORY >> Lonoke murder threatened on Facebook

Leader staff writer

“My brother didn’t deserve the way he died,” Walter Jones’ sister, Brandi Harris, said as she described his weekend murder in Lonoke.

“It was on Facebook that someone was going to kill him,” she said.

According to Harris, a group of about 20 people came to Jones’ house on Teresa Lane on Sunday.

It is believed there was a shootout and a retaliatory arson because of an argument Saturday night at a nightclub in Scott. The police chief said he doesn’t think it was gang-related.

It was Lonoke’s first murder in five years and has residents living along Teresa Lane on edge. Jones, 28, was the father of five children.

Police were called to South Center Street and Plantation Drive at 2:46 p.m. Sunday about a disturbance.

When the officer arrived, he saw Courtney McClain, 24, of 302 Teresa Lane walking east in the 100 block of Planation Drive with what looked like a gunshot wound on his left forearm. Planation Drive is across the street from Teresa Lane.

The officer also saw Jones, of 105 Teresa Lane, dead, with a gunshot wound on the left side of his head near the left ear. He was wearing a white T-shirt and black pants, with a black do-rag lying near the mailbox for 101 Plantation Drive.

The officer called for medical personnel and additional officers. A silver revolver with blood was found in the grass next to Jones’ body.

Police secured the scene and asked McClain what happened. McClain told police that he and Jones began to fight. During the fight, Jones pulled a silver revolver. McClain said he attempted to grab the weapon. During the struggle, McClain said, he was shot in the left forearm and Jones was also shot.

Southern Ambulance personnel found Jones had no vital signs. McClain was then treated and transported to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ emergency room in Little Rock.

McClain was treated and released Sunday afternoon, according to Police Chief Michael Wilson.

The police department has not filed charges and no arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing. Wilson said they are waiting for results from the medical examiner and the ballistic reports from the state crime lab.

Wilson said both Jones and McClain have lived in Lonoke for many years. He assumed they knew each other.

Witnesses reported seeing a third person at the scene. Wilson said police do not believe the gun found next to Jones was the weapon used in the shooting.

At 1:30 a.m. Mon-day, McClain’s grandmother’s house at 302 Teresa Lane burned in a suspected act of revenge. No one was at the home when the fire started.

Wilson said the grandmother had received threats early in the evening. She decided to stay at a friend’s house for the night.

Wilson thought the house was a total loss. Wilson called the state police arson investigator to the scene. The investigator found traces of an accelerant.

 “People have called the police department reporting anonymous threats,” Wilson said.

He said there was a reported drive-by shooting in Little Rock where bullets were shot into a house where McClain’s cousin lives.

“It is very scary. There are too many kids on the street for this. This is getting out of control. Some innocent house could get targeted. The houses look so much the same,” a mother living on Teresa Lane said.

She wants more police officers patrolling the area.

“It is not safe right now,” she said.

Wilson said a state trooper and a Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy are assisting the city police patrolling in the area. No incidents occurred Monday night.

Wilson said the case was turned over to the State Police because of a conflict of interest in the police department. He would not elaborate.

Lakeisha Harden, a close friend of Jones, said. “He was sweet, kind, and a generous person. He was well-known and likeable. He loved his kids.”

“We called him Walt Baby Love,” she said.

It was a name his family had given him when he was younger.

“He had lots of family and friends in Lonoke. He will be truly missed by many,” his sister said.

She said Jones wanted to open his own business one day.

A close friend Allen Nelson said Jones was kind-hearted.

“He was cool. A person you would like to be around. He was more like a brother to me,” Nelson said.

Jones’ funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Palm Street Church of Christ.