Murder charges signal break in teen's killing on Mpls.' North Side

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • April 3, 2012 - 8:29 PM

A Hennepin County grand jury has indicted a Minneapolis teenager for first-degree murder in last summer's slaying of 13-year-old Ray'Jon Gomez, marking a breakthrough in the case more than eight months after a string of teenagers' violent deaths on the North Side.

Donquarius Davon Copeland, 17, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree murder while committing a drive-by shooting in Gomez's Aug. 24 death.

The grand jury also returned indictments against Copeland for two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder while committing a drive-by shooting, for allegedly shooting at two boys who were with Gomez.

The indictments, which were returned last week and unsealed Tuesday, offer no details or motive. Hennepin County attorney's spokesman Chuck Laszewski declined to discuss evidence that led to Copeland's arrest or the events leading to the shooting.

Copeland is in custody at the Anoka County workhouse for an unrelated second-degree assault case. His first court appearance has not been scheduled.

A 16-year-old boy also is being held in connection with Gomez's death. His name has not been released because he was 15 at the time of the shooting.

The indictments represent the first arrest and charges filed since Gomez was killed amid an outbreak of violence on the North Side that left three teenagers dead.

Gomez, known on his block as Lil' Bow-Wow, was riding his bike with two friends near the playground of the old Willard Elementary School when someone started shooting.

Four days before, Quantell Braxton, 14, was gunned down while playing tag with friends near North Commons Park. On Sept. 19, Juwon Osborne, 16, was shot to death near the intersection of 30th and Dupont Avenues near his mother's house.

Laszewski declined to say whether Copeland was connected to the other killings.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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