by Tom Chillemi
LOCUST HILL—Five individuals are facing first degree murder charges following the shooting death of a Gloucester man on Saturday night at Locust Hill.
According to Major M.E. Sampson of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, at 11:52 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, the sheriff’s office received a 911 call to respond to 5046 General Puller Highway in Locust Hill in reference to a party with under-aged persons and the smell of marijuana. The caller, who wished to remain anonymous, said there were male subjects from Lancaster County who were trying to start a fight.
Moments later another 911 call was received from the same address stating that someone had been shot. Deputies arrived and discovered an 18-year-old male with a gunshot wound to his torso. Deputies performed CPR on the shooting victim, who was later identified as Elijah Baker of Gloucester County. Baker later died.
Witnesses told Middlesex detectives that a group of individuals showed up uninvited from Lancaster County, specifically the Merry Point area. At some point during the evening one of the individuals that had not been invited produced a handgun and was passing it around to others in his group. Witnesses said one of the uninvited individuals had a verbal altercation with Baker, and that other members of the group joined in the verbal altercation, physically threatening Baker. One of the individuals from Lancaster produced a gun and the other members of the group tried to attack Baker.
A witness who was trying to help Baker pushed him into a room where Baker attempted to lock the door and escape through a window. As Baker was climbing out of the window he was punched by one of the individuals who had broken through the door. Once Baker got out of the back window he ran toward his truck that was parked in the backyard of the residence.
Witnesses said when Baker got to his truck the group ran out of the back door of the house in pursuit of him. One eyewitness said that when the group exited the house one of the individuals pointed a gun towards Baker’s vehicle and started shooting. Other witnesses said they observed at least one additional individual shooting at Baker. There was also an eyewitness account that another member of the uninvited group was standing on a porch pointing the gun at Baker.
Detectives and members of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office worked through the night and well into the next evening. Detectives have identified five individuals in the group and have sought first-degree murder warrants for suspects that include Kemonte Deshaune Smith, 18, of White Stone, who was arrested on Monday, March 25.
Juvenile petitions have been obtained against four juveniles including Tariq Joel Beane, 16, of Thrasher Court in Merry Point, who is charged with first degree murder, felony use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and a misdemeanor for brandishing or pointing a firearm. Beane surrendered on Tuesday night to a U.S. Marshal’s fugitive task force for the Richmond metro area.
The three other unnamed juvenile males are all charged with first-degree murder by mob. Two of the juveniles were arrested March 25 and the other juvenile was arrested Tuesday morning, March 26.
This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information pertaining to this case is urged to call the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office Crime Line at 758-5600.