Police: Two arrested after shooting, killing West Jordan teen
WEST JORDAN, Utah — Two teenagers have been taken into custody after police say they lured a West Jordan teenager to a park under the guise of inviting him to join their gang and fatally shooting him.
Authorities said Jedediah Zane Newsome, 18, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on a first-degree felony charge of criminal homicide, along with felony charges of discharging a firearm and obstruction of justice.
A 17-year-old boy was booked into juvenile detention on charges stemming from an unrelated incident that occurred in West Valley City, and police said charges related to this crime are pending.
Officers from the West Jordan Police Department responded to a welfare check on Christmas morning at the Gene Fullmer Recreation Center, which is located at 8015 South and 2200 West.
Police said officers located the body of Kenneth Gant, 16, of West Jordan, behind a storage container in the recreation center’s parking lot. Police said Gant was shot multiple times, and they observed footprints in mud near the body.
During their investigation, officers were told about an alleged vehicle theft that occurred in West Valley City on Christmas.
“It was reported that the owner of the vehicle approached the two suspects while they were still in the driveway, one of the suspects pointed a firearm at the owner, and then drove off,” police said in a probable cause statement.
Following a pursuit from a West Valley City police officer, officials said the suspects fled on foot and were taken into custody in the backyard of a nearby residence.
During an interview, police say Newsome “told police (the juvenile) had committed a homicide the night before in West Jordan.”
Investigators served a search warrant and said they located correspondence between the juvenile suspect and Gant on the suspect’s phone.
On Monday, police returned to the area where the suspects were taken into custody and located a black backpack.
“While going through the backpack to attempt to identify the owner, investigators observed a pair of white shoes. The white shoes with dried mud stains on them,” police said. “The tread on the found shoes appeared to match a shoe print that was located at the original homicide crime scene in West Jordan.”
Investigators said they located two suspects on surveillance video from the recreation center, and saw one of the suspects was wearing white shoes and carrying a black backpack.
After being read his Miranda Rights, police say Newsome admitted to contacting Gant under the guise of possibly joining their gang.
“(Newsome) said he had not ever met the victim before and lured him to the location due to gang affiliations,” police said in the probable cause statement. “(Newsome) said he asked the victim why he had not already joined (his) gang, knowing that the victim had previously been told no for being a (rival) gang member. (Newsome) said the victim did not admit to being a (rival) gang member, and that upset (Newsome).”
Police said Newsome then told officers he and the juvenile suspect walked behind a storage container with Gant and talked for a moment, “before (Newsome) heard two gunshots and (Gant) scream and cry.”
Investigators said Newsome said he then took the gun from the juvenile suspect and shot Gant two more times, before they fled the scene.
According to police, Newsome also said he and the juvenile suspect stole the car in West Valley City, “admitted that he ran from a Juvenile Justice System Program,” and stole the handgun that was used in the shooting.
Richard Bell from the West Jordan Police Department said, “Really, it’s unfortunate, it’s very sad and senseless. I don’t know what their thought process was, why they chose to take this young man’s life.”
The West Jordan School District sent out a statement Tuesday that read in part, “It is with great sorrow that we are reaching out to inform you about the tragic loss of one of our students, Kenneth Gant. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends of Kenneth at this very difficult time.”
The school district said counselors will be available when classes return from the winter break on Jan. 2. The counselors will be available throughout the week for students, teachers, and families who may need their help.
The district also urged families with immediate crisis concerns to use the crisis line 801-587-3000 for support.
Kenneth’s family set up a GoFundMe* account to help pay for funeral expenses.
*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.
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