BELLEVILLE — A 16-year-boy was charged with murder late Thursday after police say he accidentally shot a friend while the two were trying to hit a home.
The two friends had walked up to a home in the 7600 block of West Main Street in Belleville on Sunday night. They staggered their stances — one teen several feet behind the other — and turned to the house to open fire.
No one in the home was hit, but Quantez L. Jones, 16, shot his friend standing in front of him, police say. The friend, 18-year-old Deveon Hunt, was hit in the side by a bullet and died at a hospital.
The St. Clair County state’s attorney charged Jones with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm into a dwelling.
Brendan Kelly, the state’s attorney, said juveniles who are at least 16 years old must be charged as adults in a short list of the most serious offenses, including murder.
In addition, in Illinois, someone can be charged with killing a co-defendant if the person died while they were committing a forcible felony, such as bank robbery or, in this case, firing shots at a home.
This was the first homicide of the year in Belleville. The last one was in February 2016.
Police Chief William Clay III credited residents with providing tips and businesses with providing surveillance footage that helped police crack the case. He called in the Major Case Squad to investigate. The squad of about 20 detectives had identified Jones as the suspect by Tuesday, said Belleville Police Capt. Matt Eiskant.
Eiskant said police were called after residents reported multiple shots fired about 10 p.m. Sunday. Police found Hunt bleeding in an alley near West Main and South 76th streets.
Eiskant wouldn’t say why the teens were shooting at the house but said they knew the people who lived there. Asked if they were firing shots to harm or scare the occupants, the captain said, “A little of both.”
Jones lives off of South 74th Street, outside the Belleville city limits. He is a student at Pathways alternative school. The victim, Hunt, used to attend night classes at another alternative school but had stopped attending and was no longer enrolled there when he died.
— This story originally ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a sister Lee Enterprises-owned newspaper of The Southern.