Outside the courtroom where Trequan Sykes' killer faced second-degree murder charges on Tuesday, Perry Singleton said his 16-year-old son died a hero, trying to protect his brother and sister.
According to the criminal complaint, Malcolm Maghundi Jackson, also 16, pointed a gun at Sykes' sister and placed it against the head of Sykes' brother during a confrontation outside a south Minneapolis apartment building Friday. After the hearing and at a vigil Tuesday night, Singleton said Sykes told them to run away and confronted Jackson alone.
"He just told the kid, 'You're not trying to do nothing,'" Singleton said. "He turned to walk away and he shot him."
The charges against Jackson allege he had stashed a chrome revolver outside South High School on Friday, confronted Sykes over an earlier fight with his brother and shot him in the back.
During Jackson's initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Teresa Froehlke asked for 30 days to perform a certification and psychiatric study to charge Jackson as an adult.
His next court appearance is scheduled for June 19. She also requested he remain jailed to protect him from retribution. Jackson's attorney, Rachelle Stratton, did not challenge the request.
At Tuesday's vigil attended by more than 50 people, friends, family and community members pleaded for kids to not use weapons to settle their disagreements or to retaliate.
"This gangbanging, this clique stuff is garbage," said K.G. Wilson of Hope Ministries.
Victor Hernandez, 15, who went to the event with a freshly inked R.I.P. tattoo on his right arm in memory of his friend, said that the shooting had left him depressed and angry. But while he knew some people wanted to retaliate, he said that would violate Sykes' memory. "I know Trey wouldn't want to do that," he said
"Sometimes you might have to walk away from some fights," Singleton said. "And that was exactly what he was trying to do."
Tuesday was the last day of school for many of Sykes' friends and siblings, but instead of reveling in the prospect of summer, they held hands, cried and comforted each other.
"Nobody's school year should end like this," said City Council Member Gary Schiff.
A previous dispute
According to charges, Jackson told police that he retrieved the revolver after classes, walked into the alley behind Sykes' home with two others and confronted him. He said he pulled out the gun, which he said he'd owned for two years, and fired as Sykes tried to run back into the house.
Several witnesses who were with Sykes said he was talking to three males, named "Bishop," "Malik" and a third man with an afro. "Bishop" was later identified as Jackson.
One witness said she saw Jackson pull out a gun and shoot Sykes as he was walking away, and knew the same three males were involved in a fight with Sykes' brother the week before. Another witness said Jackson pointed the gun at her and said "Think I won't kill you?" before he fired at Sykes from three to four feet away as Sykes turned his back. A third witness said Jackson pointed the gun at his head and asked whether he had ever been shot before.
Five witnesses identified Jackson as the shooter from a photo lineup. One of the people who saw Sykes get shot was his 14-year-old brother Perry. He said his brother died trying to protect his siblings.
"He stopped the bullet," Sykes' younger brother said.
The two males with Jackson at the time of the shooting told police that he left South High School that afternoon and walked in the alley behind Sykes' home, and that Jackson shot Sykes with a "cowboy gun."
Sykes was found in the entryway of an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Bloomington Avenue S. He died at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Jackson's mother, Shantae Burnett, declined to comment as she left the courthouse, stopping briefly to apologize and offer her condolences to Sykes' mother, Phaedra Singleton.
Perry Singleton Sr. said that his son, the middle of seven siblings, was "an outstanding, good kid" who attended Roosevelt High School, where he played basketball, football and baseball. Although his son and Jackson attended different schools, they lived just a block from one another.
"The whole community and schools are very hurt," he said. "He was an outstanding, good kid."