The second of two teens charged in the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy riding his bicycle in north Minneapolis in 2011 pleaded guilty Thursday to felony murder.
Donquarius Copeland, now 19, agreed to a 34-year prison term for killing Ray’Jon Gomez and wounding another boy. As part as the deal, he agreed to two new counts of intentional second-degree murder and intentional attempted second-degree murder, which replaced two initial counts of first-degree murder; four counts of first-degree attempted murder were dismissed.
His plea also included a nearly 13-year sentence for the attempted second-degree murder charge, but it will be served concurrently with the larger sentence.
Derrick Catchings, now 17, pleaded guilty last February to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder for shooting and killing Gomez, and received a sentence similar to Copeland’s.
Gomez and another boy were walking and biking Aug. 24 in an alley near the playground of the old Willard Elementary School when the shootings occurred, according to court documents. In court, Catchings admitted that he and several other young men drove in a van in gang territory searching for a particular person whom they suspected had wounded one of Catchings’ friends.
As they drove, they spotted a teenager they thought was the person they were looking for, walking with Gomez and another friend on bikes. Catchings said he jumped out of the van and fired three shots at the group before he gave the gun to Copeland, who fired four more. Catchings admitted in court that Gomez wasn’t who they were seeking revenge on.
A third man, who drove the van, also has been charged in Gomez’ s death.