A man who shot and killed a middle school student who he thought was trying to break into a car has been arrested and charged with murder.
Jason Lewis, 41, turned himself in to police in Washington, DC, on Tuesday morning after authorities obtained a warrant for his arrest, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said during a news conference. Lewis, an employee of DC's Department of Parks and Recreation, is facing one count of second-degree murder while armed, according to court documents.
The charge comes weeks after Lewis fatally shot 13-year-old Karon Blake outside his home early in the morning on Jan. 7. Lewis, who is a licensed concealed carry permit holder, told police that he was in bed when he heard noises outside and "observed someone that appeared to be tampering with vehicles."
Lewis told police that he had called out, "Hey! What are y'all doing?" before Karon "bee-lined" at him "in a full sprint to the front of his gate," according to an affidavit filed with the complaint. Lewis allegedly said he then fired his weapon twice, striking Karon.
But according to the affidavit, Lewis actually fired his weapon at least three times. Contee told reporters that the first shot, which he said Lewis did not mention to police, was fired at a "getaway vehicle" that was parked nearby and not at Karon. The vehicle then began to reverse through the alley. Karon started to run toward the car but then changed his direction and ran toward the sidewalk.
According to the documents, Karon is heard yelling in surveillance camera footage, "I am sorry," "Please don't," "No," "I am a kid," and "I am only 12" numerous times as Lewis fires his weapon at the child. Images from surveillance footage included in the affidavit show Lewis standing at an open gate at his home with his left arm extended toward the sidewalk.
"I don't know if [Karon] knew that Mr. Lewis was standing where he was standing, but, you know, it's 4 o'clock in the morning. It's dark out there," Contee said.
Karon was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia confirmed he died from multiple gunshot wounds and ruled his death a homicide, according to court documents.
The police chief said that surveillance video confirmed that Karon and another unknown individual were "peering into cars that were in the block in front of where Mr. Lewis resides and they were going into the cars." However, he argued that the initial shot Lewis fired "kind of put the chain of events into place" that ultimately resulted in Karon's killing.
"Here we have a kid who’s dead who shouldn't be," Contee said. "I would hope that anybody with half of a heart that would impact you in some way, shape, form, or fashion. This young man shouldn't be dead."
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Lewis's attorney Lee Smith said his client maintains he is innocent.
"While this is certainly a tragedy, once all the facts are heard, I believe that a jury will find that there was no crime here," Smith said. "Mr. Lewis has dedicated his career to mentoring and supporting youth in the District of Columbia, which only adds to how distraught he is over the death of Karon Blake. Mr. Lewis and his family offer heartfelt condolences to Karon’s family and other loved ones."
According to the Washington Post, Lewis has been placed on administrative leave from the city.
When asked what took so long for charges to be filed, Contee told reporters that officials were dealing with a self-defense claim "that needed to be overcome" and said detectives have been "working around the clock" on the case.
"We wanted to get to the bottom of this, and I'm not going to rush to judgment," Contee said. "We wanted to make sure that we did this right."
Karon's mother Londen Blake addressed the charges against Lewis during a news conference Wednesday, saying she hopes she gets justice for her son and that Lewis is "convicted to the highest."
"Jason Lewis, he ain't have no right," Blake told reporters. "He had no right. It could've went a whole different way."
During her comments, she addressed questions about why her son was out so early in the morning, saying that sometimes kids "do things that they're not supposed to do" and that parents have no idea about.
"What I can say is that Karon came from a good home," Blake said, "and I tried my best with him."
"Everybody is like, 'What is he doing out at 4 a.m.?'" she continued. "Would you all feel better if it was at 4 p.m.? A crime is a crime and that's just that. He took my baby, my first born, and it's messed up."
Lewis is currently being held without bond; DC does not have cash bail. However, Smith told BuzzFeed News he plans to file a motion for pretrial release. Lewis is due back in court on Feb. 13 for a preliminary hearing, according to online court records.