Teen will be charged as adult in Jearicka's shooting death

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11:34 p.m.

The teenager accused of the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Jearicka Mack last month will be charged as an adult, and a grand jury hearing on the case will be heard soon.

Dontavious Copeland, 17, is charged with murder in connection to the May 14 shooting of Jearicka after a party outside of the University Lions Club on North Main Terrace. Jearicka apparently was an innocent bystander in the shooting.

Meanwhile, Copeland has also been charged in a separate case with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and robbery with a firearm.

"It is my belief that any person of that age who can be involved in gun offenses, one involving a death, belongs in adult court," State Attorney Bill Cervone said.

Jearicka had been attending a birthday party at the club. Outside afterward, authorities say, members of several gangs began fighting. Copeland is suspected of pulling out a gun and firing. Reports say a stray bullet hit Jearicka.

Gainesville police say Copeland is a gang member who has had various brushes with the law.

Copeland is now also accused of a May 9 incident at the Bentwood apartment complex at 6929 W. University Ave. A man reported to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office that he was riding through the parking lot on his bicycle when he saw some people breaking into cars.

One of the suspects stopped him at gunpoint and made him empty his pockets, said Sgt. Todd Kelly. As the victim was leaving, several shots were fired, Kelly said.

Kelly said investigators developed Copeland as a suspect and charged him when he was already in custody on the murder charge.

Cervone said a grand jury will review the Jearicka shooting within a few weeks.

Jearicka's funeral on Saturday drew an estimated 700 people, many of them family members and friends with whom she grew up.

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