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Ray'Jon Gomez

Ray'Jon Gomez

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16-year-old pleads guilty in 2011 Minneapolis shooting death

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET
  • Star Tribune
  • February 5, 2013 - 10:44 PM

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally shooting a 13-year-old as the younger boy rode a bicycle with his friends near a Minneapolis playground two summers ago.

Derrick Deangelo Catchings, who will turn 17 in two weeks, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder for shooting and killing Ray'Jon Gomez and wounding another boy as they walked and biked in a north Minneapolis alley in August 2011, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office. The shooting took place Aug. 24, near the playground of the old Willard Elementary School.

Catchings is likely to get more than 38 years in prison.

"We think this is a good resolution to an almost incomprehensible crime," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a news release. "The victim is 13 years old and riding his bicycle. The person who admits pulling the trigger was just 15 at the time. This gun violence among children must stop."

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 were driving, they spotted a teenager whom they thought was the one they were looking for, walking with Gomez and another friend who were on bikes.

Catchings said he jumped out of the van and fired three shots at the group before he gave the gun to Donquarius Davon Copeland, 18, who fired four more shots. Catchings admitted in court that Gomez hadn't been the person they were seeking revenge on.

Sentencing for Catchings is scheduled for May 20. Several other counts in the indictment will be dropped at that time.

Copeland and Kemen Lavatos Taylor II, 26, who is accused of have driven the van, also were indicted in the case and face trial April 22.

The plea was the second time in less than a week that a teenage defendant had admitted to shooting another young person dead in north Minneapolis. On Friday, Stephon Shannon, 17, pleaded guilty to shooting and killing 5-year-old Nizzel George while the boy slept on his grandmother's couch on Bryant Avenue N. last summer. Shannon was sentenced to 28 years in prison Tuesday.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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