Brother charged in fatal shooting of 10-year-old - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Bond set for suspects in 10-year-old's death

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According to Lt. Sandra Williams, officers were called to a home on Park Avenue around 9:40 p.m. in reference to a shooting. According to Lt. Sandra Williams, officers were called to a home on Park Avenue around 9:40 p.m. in reference to a shooting.
Vicksburg police detectives found a small caliber handgun in a creek behind the home where a 10-year-old boy was shot Monday night. Vicksburg police detectives found a small caliber handgun in a creek behind the home where a 10-year-old boy was shot Monday night.
Joshua Ryan Coffee, 21 (Source: VPD) Joshua Ryan Coffee, 21 (Source: VPD)
Willie Louis Willis, 20 (Source: VPD) Willie Louis Willis, 20 (Source: VPD)
VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It was an emotional scene in the courtroom during the arraignment hearing for the two men charged in the shooting death of a 10-year-old Vicksburg boy.

Family members of the suspects lined the front bench of the Vicksburg Municipal Courtroom Thursday afternoon as the judge determined a bail amount for each man.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong says 10-year-old Jerald Tucker, Jr. was shot in the head Monday night and died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Wednesday afternoon. Two men are now being held responsible for his death, including the older brother of the young victim.

According to Lt. Sandra J. Williams with the Vicksburg Police Department, warrants were issued for the arrests of the victim's older brother, Willie Willis, 20, and Joshua Coffee, 21, both of Vicksburg, regarding Tucker's death. Both have been charged with Manslaughter.

The shooting occurred at Tucker's residence where he lived with Willis and his father Jerald Tucker, Sr. According to statements by witnesses, Coffee and Willis were handling a small caliber weapon in the living room of the home where Jerald was playing a video game. The weapon discharged, striking the child in the back of the head. The weapon is believed to belong to Willis, according to Lt. Williams.

In addition to the manslaughter charge, Coffee has also been charged with possession of a weapon by a felon. Lt. Williams says Coffee was convicted in Warren County Circuit Court in 2010 for strong armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Coffee and Willis' court appearance, originally scheduled for 11 a.m. in Vicksburg, was postponed until 2 p.m. While sitting outside the courtroom, Coffee's mother expressed concern for her son.

"Please pray for our family," Coffee's mother stated, "this was an accident. I do know my son Joshua stayed with Jerald and gave him CPR and tried to stay with him until the ambulance got there. That's what he told me."

Inside the courtroom, the mother could not hold her emotion as the judge explained the charges, penalties, and amount the bond has been set at. Family members cried and shouted when the judge announced Coffee's bond is set at $95K, and he faces up to 30 years in jail. Willis' bond was set at $75K and he faces up to 20 years in jail.

Lt. Williams said Wednesday, before arrests were made, that it appears the shooting was accidental and the district attorney's office has been made aware of all the information detectives have collected.

Captain Robert Stewart said, "According to what we've been told, while they were in the house they were passing the weapon back and forth. It's unclear if they were playing with it when it struck Jerald in the back of the head."

Officers found a small caliber handgun Tuesday in a creek behind the home where Jerald was shot Monday night.

"We're not sure that is the weapon used. It will be collected and sent to a crime lab," said Lt. Sandra Williams.

"From what I understand, Willie ran. He took the gun and ran. The police and Willie say it was his gun," said Coffee's grandmother.

Prior to the arrests, police said they interviewed three people who were in the home at the time of the shooting.

"This is an ongoing investigation. We did secure the crime scene and started talking to all of the parties present at the time the weapon was fired, however we have not determined who fired the weapon," Chief Walter Armstrong said Tuesday.

According to Williams, officers were called to the home on Park Avenue around 9:40 p.m. Monday in reference to a shooting. When police units arrived, they discovered Jerald lying on the living room floor.

Lt. Williams says the child was in distress and suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Jerald was transported to River Region Medical Center for treatment and later transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center by helicopter.

The Vicksburg Warren School District confirmed in a statement that Jerald was a fourth grade student at South Park Elementary School. Extra counselors and staff were available at South Park Elementary Tuesday.

The district also said another Warren County student remains at UMMC after being the victim of a hit and run last week.

Eight-year-old Kenneth Hall Jr., was hit while riding his bike April 16. He suffered brain trauma and a broken pelvis, according to his family.

Hall is a student at Warrenton Elementary School.

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