MILWAUKEE -- Two men accused of taking the life of a nine-year-old girl in May of 2016 are now charged in connection with the death of 26-year-old Jerome Johnson -- gunned down at a Milwaukee ice cream stand on August 4th. The crimes happened within just over a year's time, and prosecutors say the shooting of Za'layia Jenkins happened during a drug deal, and the shooting of Jerome Johnson happened in retaliation for another killing.
25-year-old Tony Powell Jr. of Milwaukee on Wednesday, August 16th was charged with first degree intentional homicide, as party to a crime for the shooting death at Tastee Twist near North and Teutonia on August 4th.
Powell Jr. is the second man to be charged in both the Tastee Twist homicide, and that of Za'layia Jenkins. 32-year-old Otha Brown of Milwaukee faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, as party to a crime, use of a dangerous weapon.
According to the criminal complaint, police obtained surveillance footage from cameras at businesses near the Tastee Twist. The footage showed that a car pulled into the parking lot near the shooting and two men exited together. The complaint says "one man approached the ice cream stand area where the victim was shot. After the shooting, the men ran away together."
A citizen witness spoke with investigators -- and managed to record six of the seven characters of the license plate before the car drove away.
Brown, the alleged driver of the car, was arrested that same evening, and prosecutors say he admitted to the Jenkins' homicide.
Brown gave a statement to police that he was in the car with Powell and a third person. Apparently "Powell saw the victim and said that he believed the victim was the person who had shot and killed a friend of Powell's name 'Meechie.'" Powell then apparently told Brown he was "going to 'kill' the victim." Brown told police he and Powell got out of the car together and "Powell went up and shot the victim multiple times. Brown and Powell then ran away together."
Brown and Powell, along with a third man, 21-year-old Damonta Jennings, are also charged in connection with the fatal shooting of nine-year-old Za’layia Jenkins on May 15th, 2016.
They each face one count of first degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime.
Jennings was the last to be arrested, taken into custody on August 15th in Oshkosh.
They're accused of unloading a barrage of bullets near 15th and Meinecke, and a stray bullet hit Jenkins, who was in a home in the area. She died 11 days later.
"How could somebody commit such a crime like that? Such a huge crime and not say anything?" Destiny Boone, Jenkins' mother said.
For more than a year, Jenkins' family begged for answers as police investigated.
Brown, Powell and Jennings were charged Monday, August 14th.
"This is obviously another dreadful example of the devastating toll that mindless violence takes on the young people of Milwaukee," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.