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 Teenager re-arrested in shooting death of 5-year-old
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4 months ago

Teenager re-arrested in shooting death of 5-year-old

Opelousas Police have re-arrested a 16-year-old on charges of 2nd degree murder following the shooting death of a 5-year-old.

New information from an exclusive KATC interview with the boy's parents provides fresh insight into what may have occurred on the day of the shooting.

Jon'qualon Pitre died in a Baton Rouge hospital after being shot on February 27th. Initially the teenager was charged with illegal possession of the firearm. Chief Perry Gallow told us they found the gun used in the shooting just feet away from the victim. However, the teenager said he wasn't there, and phone records reflected he made a few calls near his mother's Cherry Street home when the shots were fired.

Police had said that it had appeared as though the five-year-old and his seven-year-old brother were the only ones in the yard when the shot was fired at "point blank range". Now police say because of evidence analyzed at the State Police Crime lab and further statements taken, the teenager is now the suspect in the shooting death.

During an exclusive and previously unpublished interview with Jon'qualon's parents on March 5, Jon'qualon's mother said she had asked her 7-year-old, "Did you touch the gun?"

"No, ma'am," he told her, according to the boy's mother, Shawndree Pitre. The boys' father, Benjamin Gaines, told KATC that his 7-year-old "had been sticking to his story and I don't know why the police don't believe him."

"He (his 7-year-old) doesn't lie to his father at all," said Gaines. Gaines told KATC that the 16-year-old boy now in custody, a boyfriend of Gaines's sister-in-law, he said, had been borrowing the white car belonging to his wife's sister. Gaines's father said that his 7-year-old had told him that the now apprehended 16-year-old boy had left the scene in the same white vehicle shortly after the alleged shooting of Jon'qualon.

"For a month, he had been staying at our house. My wife didn't like him. My wife had a funny vibe against him. He had been skipping school," Gaines said.

Gaines said that that his 7-year-old son had told him that he had witnessed the 16-year-old shooting a gun in the field across the street and that 16-year-old house guest, according to the 7-year-old, had hidden the gun underneath the steps of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. home.

Gaines said that his 7-year-old next observed the 16-year-old entering the home and then 5-year-old Jon'qualon playing with the gun. According to the story, the father continues, his son told him that the 16-year-old re-exited the home and began to fuss at Jon'qualon.

"Don't play with that gun!" the 16-year-old allegedly shouted at Jon'qualon, according to the boy's father.

"If I ever catch you with that gun, I'm going to shoot you," according to the 7-year-old's story, recounted by his father.

Gaines said that his 7-year-old son witnessed the 16-year-old houseguest allegedly put the gun up to his little brother's head, shoot him, and then leave the scene in a white vehicle. Gaines said that his son told him that there were other people in the vehicle, but could not identify them.

Gaines said that he personally had been offshore at work on the day of the shooting. His wife had been "at the washateria" and that his kids were in the care of his 19-year-old sister-in-law.

On March 5, Gaines had told KATC-TV3 that both he and his wife had been leery of the friendships maintained by his 16-year-old houseguest and that Jon'qualon's mother was close to kicking the 16-year-old out of their home. Gaines said that he resisted his wife's attempt to throw out the teenager who is now in custody for the alleged murder of his 5-year-old son.

"I didn't like doing that to people," Gaines said of the idea of removing the teen from his home.

"The crowd that he hangs with . That's all they do is shoot guns," Gaines said during the March 5 interview.

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4 months ago

Parents of Opelousas 5-year-old set up account to pay med, funeral expenses

The parents of the 5-year-old boy shot in his front yard in Opelousas Thursday night have set up an account to accept donations to help pay for the cost of their son's medical and burial expenses.

Those who wish to donate to the beneficiary account for Jon'qualon Pitre should enter or drive-through any Teche Federal location and deposit funds into account 22721997.

Benjamin Gaines and Shawndree Pitre told KATC that the ordeal has been traumatic for the entire family, but that they are coping.

"We're fine. We're trying to be strong for our other three kids," said Jon'qualon's mother. Her other children are ages 7, 3, and 2 months.

"It hurts. We try not to let our kids see," she added, noting that their other kids still ask about their brother.

"He's in heaven now. He's an angel and he's watching over us," she said she explained to them.

After being taken off of life support, Jon'qualon Pitre's organs were removed and donated. Opelousas Police Chief said that Pitre suffered a gunshot wound from a weapon placed at "point-blank range" of the boy's head. Gallow said that current evidence points toward only the five-year-old and his seven-year-old brother being present in the yard when the shot was fired.

Gallow added that the gun has been brought in for processing to determine any fingerprints or DNA. A 16-year-old originally had been brought into custody for questioning in the incident, but he since has been cleared of all charges.

The investigation into the shooting continues.

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4 months ago

UPDATE: Opelousas Child Taken Off Life Support

The 5-year-old boy shot in his front yard in Opelousas Thursday night has been taken off of life support. Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow tells KATC Jon'qualon Pitre's organs will be removed this afternoon to be donated. Police say Pitre suffered a gunshot wound from a weapon placed, at "point-blank range" of the boy's head.

Gallow says current evidence points that only the five-year-old and his seven-year-old brother were present in the yard when the shot was fired.

Gallow adds the gun has been brought in for processing to determine any fingerprints or DNA.

A 16-year-old was brought into custody for questioning in the incident, but he has been cleared of all charges.

The investigation into the shooting continues.

4 months ago

Parents of Opelousas Child Speak to KATC

At Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, 5 year old Jon'qualon Pitre is clinging to life with his parents at his side.

It's a nightmare that started Thursday night. Shawndrea and Benjamin Pitre say, "We were approaching the house; I [saw] my son at the end of the road and I don't let them play outside, so I was like why is he standing by the road."

Shawndrea Pitre says her other son, 7-year-old Ja'qualon, was crying while trying to flag down cars.

"My little boy was like 'he bleeding, he bleeding, he got shot,' so when I went up to see what was going on he was just laying down on the ground," says Shawndrea.

She says Jon'qualon is an honor student with straight A's, and was just talking about going to college two days ago.

She adds he liked school, he loved everybody, he liked joking around and being a bigger brother to his little sister and new brother. He was a good kid and everybody loved him.

The parents add the bullet went in his head and it's still there. They say they can't do anything surgically to remove it since the bullet went in, it shattered and damaged his brain badly.

The family says they forgive whoever is responsible, and they're hoping for the best.

Jon'qualon's parents say, "I just want him to come home because my 7 year old have to live with that, seeing that and me coming home to him stretched out on the ground."

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4 months ago

Parents name Opelousas shooting victim

The parents of the five-year-old victim shot in Opelousas have identified their son.

According to his parents, Jon'qualon Pitre remains in serious condition in a Baton Rouge hospital after being shot in the head shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday in the 500 block of Martin Luther King Drive.

Police have arrested a 16-year-old in connection with the case and have charged him with illegal possession of the firearm. The circumstances surrounding the incident remain under investigation.

Tonight on Acadiana's NewsChannel at 5:00, KATC's Kristen Holloway speaks to Jon'qualon's parents, who are not speaking out about Thursday's events.

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4 months ago

Opelousas Police Make Arrest After Child Shot

Thursday, a 16 year old was arrested after a 5 year old boy was shot in Opelousas.

Opelousas Police have charged the teenager with illegal carrying of a firearm. He is not charged with shooting the child. Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow says officers found the gun believed to be used in the shooting, less than 10 feet away from the victim. Gallow also says the teen admitted he brought that gun to the house two weeks ago but the teen says he was not there at the time of the shooting. Police are working to confirm those details. They have, however, confirmed, the teen is a friend of the family who lives in the home in the 500 block of MLK Drive, where the shooting happened.

As for the 5 year old, he is listed in serious condition at a Baton Rouge hospital with a gun shot wound in the head.

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4 months ago

Update: Family members in Opelousas identify shooting victim

Family members tell us the shooting victim in Opelousas is 5-years-old, not 7-years-old as police initially reported. However, the boy's 7-year-old brother was nearby playing at the time of the shooting. The family said it happened less than ten minutes after they arrived home from school while the children were playing outside on MLK drive.

Family members tell KATC's Kristen Holloway that an unknown person placed a gun under the home where the shooting happened. They say minutes later, a car drove by and a person inside started firing shots at the home. The car is only described as a white, 4-door vehicle.

Police would later find a weapon under the porch of the home, but they haven't commented further on how it got there.

The 5-year-old victim is in serious condition and was airlifted to a Baton Rouge hospital. Family members tell us he was shot in the head, but he is alive.

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4 months ago

7-year-old victim in Opelousas drive-by-shooting

Opelousas Police confirm they are investigating a drive-by shooting in the 500 block of MLK Drive. The victim is a 7-year-old child; no word on the extent of injuries. A white, 4-door car was seen leaving the area. We have a crew en route.

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