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Two face charges in fatal shooting of boy, 15

Suspect tells officers he fired a pellet gun at two brothers during alleged burglary in Bellflower.

January 22, 2007|Rich Connell and Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writers

Two men are facing possible murder charges in connection with the fatal shooting Sunday of a 15-year-old boy during an alleged burglary in Bellflower.

The confrontation occurred shortly before sunrise when the boy and an alleged adult accomplice were spotted by a 57-year-old man near the rear of his property on Park Street, just north of the 91 Freeway, authorities said.

Jerry Cress told investigators the suspects were trying to break into a shed. He said one was armed with a hammer and that he fired a pellet gun at them.

The suspects fled and the boy showed up a short time later in a hospital emergency room with what appeared to be a gunshot wound, authorities said.

By Sunday evening, both Cress and Duane Berry, 24, the teen's brother and alleged accomplice, had been arrested and were being held without bail.

Berry was arrested on suspicion of murder with special circumstances because the death occurred during the commission of a felony, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Moore. Cress was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Details of the incident, and why Cress was taken into custody, were not released.

Yolanda Rice, the mother of the dead boy and the alleged accomplice, said she saw entry wounds in her son's right shoulder and his lower back. She said she did not think a burglary was involved and that Berry told her they weren't on the property when they were fired on.

"I just don't understand how somebody could shoot somebody, even if he thought somebody was on his property," she said.

Rice confirmed information in court and jail databases that Berry had recently been released from jail and had a pending criminal case involving the alleged sale or furnishing of marijuana.

Among other things, homicide detectives were investigating the motive for the alleged burglary, including whether marijuana plants found at Cress' residence were a factor, Moore said. Cress told investigators that he had liver cancer.

Cress had called the Lakewood sheriff's station early Sunday to report the burglary and that he had fired three pellet rounds at the suspects, officials said. Lakewood Regional Medical Center called the station later to report that an apparent gunshot victim had arrived.

About an hour after the shooting, the boy, Jacob T. Walker of Paramount, was pronounced dead, according to the county coroner's office. Rice said her son was a student at Paramount High School.

Investigators were waiting for a coroner's autopsy to confirm the cause of death and type of weapon involved, Moore said. The district attorney's office will decide what charges might be filed, he said.


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