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Man accused in girl's killing was seeking revenge for fistfight, charging documents say

Devin Kelly,Casey Grove
Mickel Richardson, 11, grandmother Dana Sweatt, and Teuaililo Talamaivao, 9, holding a photograph of her sister Precious Alex, 15, speak to the media after Lamar Burney was arraigned in the Anchorage jail court on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, for the shooting death of the teenage girl in Mt. View on Tuesday.
Bill Roth
Teuaililo Talamaivao, 9, holds a photograph of her sister Precious Alex, 15, during the arraignment of Lamar Burney in the Anchorage jail court on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, for the shooting death of the teenage girl who was asleep in Mt. View on Tuesday.
Bill Roth
Tracy Burney and Elizabeth Akins attended the arraignment for their son Lamar Burney who was arraigned in the Anchorage jail court on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, for the shooting death of fifteen-year-old Precious Alex in Mt. View on Tuesday.
Bill Roth
15 year old Precious Alex was fatally wounded by gunshot in the 600 block of North Flower Street in Mt. View on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
Dana Sweatt
Dana Sweatt is hugged by her sister Carol Groff as Anchorage Police officers investigate the scene of a fatal shooting in the 600 block of North Flower in Mt. View on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Sweatt's 15 year old granddaughter Precious Alex was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital officers said.
Bob Hallinen
Lamar Burney was arraigned in the Anchorage jail court on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, for the shooting death of fifteen-year-old Precious Alex in Mt. View on Tuesday.
Bill Roth

The fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl sleeping in a Mountain View apartment early Tuesday was apparently motivated by revenge, according to a charging document in the case.

The charges say one of the two men accused of killing the teenager, identified by family as Precious Alex, lost a fight with the teen's mother's fiance two weeks before the shooting. The fiance and mother were sleeping in the room next to Precious' when she was killed, they said.

It remained unclear Wednesday if defendants Jamal Townsend, 24, and Lamar Burney, 28, meant to shoot the teenage girl. A bullet also struck a boy in the room with Precious, hitting him in the foot, according to the charging document.

Townsend and Burney each face charges of murder, attempted murder and second-degree assault. Burney appeared in court at the Anchorage jail on Wednesday, and a judge ordered him held on $1 million cash bail. Townsend is expected in court Thursday.

According to the charges, Townsend had gotten into a fight with a man named Quentin Hargrove about two weeks before the shooting. Hargrove and the victim's mother, DeMetra Alex, are engaged, the couple said.

A sworn statement by Anchorage detective Walt Gilmour, filed in court with the charges, describes the police investigation so far:

It was about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday when two patrol officers on Parsons Street in Mountain View heard gunshots. They drove toward the sound and noticed a silver Jeep Cherokee speeding away from Flower Street.

As soon as the Jeep's driver noticed one of the police cars, the Jeep started to drive "unusually slow," Gilmour wrote. The officer radioed to dispatchers and reported the seemingly suspicious vehicle just as an alert went out about a shooting victim at an apartment at 633 N. Flower St.

"Inside one of the bedrooms, (officers) found a 15-year-old juvenile -- whose initials are P.A. -- suffering from multiple gunshot wounds," Gilmour wrote. "Paramedics arrived a short while later and transported P.A. to Alaska Regional Hospital, where she was later declared deceased."

Meanwhile an officer spotted the silver Jeep heading south leaving the area and, after more police arrived, pulled it over at 15th Avenue and Sitka Street.

Townsend was in the front passenger seat, Burney sat in the back, and the charges identify the driver as Karlie West. Townsend told the officer he had "some weed" and had an outstanding warrant for drugs misconduct. Burney was on probation.

Townsend was put under arrest for the warrant. Burney was arrested at the request of a probation officer. And an officer conducted what Gilmour described in the charges as a "protective sweep" of the Jeep, after its occupants were no longer in it.

Under the driver's seat was what looked like a black handgun. The officers stopped the sweep, applied for and received a search warrant, and retrieved the gun: a black Smith & Wesson .40-caliber, semi-automatic. There were no rounds in it.

"The slide was locked back as though the gun had fired all of the loaded rounds and locked back in the empty position," Detective Gilmour wrote.

FIGHT TWO WEEKS AGO

At the apartment, police found a cracked window to a basement apartment with bullet holes in it. On the ground nearby, there were six spent shell casings from .40-caliber rounds.

The bedroom is directly adjacent to one Hargrove and the victim's mother share, Gilmour wrote in the charges.

In an interview, Hargrove told police he had been in a fight with a man he knew only as "Millz" about two weeks ago. A white Dodge Durango had pulled up to the apartment, Hargrove said, according to the charges.

"He and 'Millz' began to argue about a mutual girlfriend, and 'Millz' challenged Hargrove to a fight," Gilmour wrote. "Hargrove (said) that when he told 'Millz' he was not going to fight someone with a gun, he observed 'Millz' give a handgun to his girlfriend."

They fought, and Hargrove was winning, he told detectives. Then "Millz" started to leave, but not before getting his gun and firing several times at the apartment. Hargrove told detectives the rounds were likely still lodged in the wall.

When shown a photo lineup later, Hargrove identified Townsend as the man called "Millz," Gilmour wrote.

After the interview, officers found six bullets in the wall that appeared to be .40-caliber rounds.

Karlie West, the driver of the Jeep stopped after Precious was shot, said in an interview with detectives that Townsend was still angry about the fight with Hargrove in the hours before the fatal shooting. Townsend and Burney were at her apartment that night, and she agreed to drive them to Mountain View.

"West stated that Townsend wanted to go over to Hargrove's residence because he was interested in some form of revenge for the fight a couple weeks earlier. She said she did not see the weapon, but she heard Burney and Townsend handling an item that sounded like a firearm," Gilmour wrote.

When they reached the apartment, the men got out and were gone for about 10 minutes before they returned, got back in and told her to drive away. There is no mention in the charges of West saying she heard gunshots.

The boy in the room with the murder victim and also hit by gunfire said he was in bed with her when he heard the gunshots. Their feet were facing the window, he told detectives, and he reached for the girl, "but she was already shot," Gilmour wrote. The boy was hit in his right foot and a bullet went through his left shoe but did not hit that foot, according to the charges.

A medical examiner conducting an autopsy on the girl's body examined her two wounds, one to her leg and another to her abdomen, and recovered a .40-caliber bullet, the charges say.

TWO FAMILIES IN COURT

In an interview Wednesday with the Daily News, Hargrove said he did not know what Townsend was talking about when he started arguing with him about the "mutual girlfriend" mentioned in the charges. Hargrove said he did not think Townsend and Burney had been trying to shoot him.

Hargrove said he heard the shots and thought it was coming from far away, "just somebody shooting in the neighborhood."

"Once I heard my daughter's voice, I knew something was wrong," he said. "We jumped up ... She didn't come out. So we knew something was wrong."

Hargrove said he held Precious as she was dying.

"I don't think they was trying to get me, 'cause that was the wrong room, and how the window was, no blinds, nothing, you could see who was in there," Hargrove said. "He knew what he was doing."

Family members said Precious had been attending school in Fairbanks, at Lathrop High School, and was an honor roll student with a 3.8 GPA. She had come to Anchorage after Christmas to visit her mother, and decided to take Alaska's standardized tests for high school students and attend classes at a job-readiness agency, her grandmother said.

In the Anchorage jail courtroom Wednesday afternoon, Precious' family shared the gallery benches with family there for Burney, one of her accused killers. Some stood in a hallway.

Burney held a copy of the charges against him over his face, just below his eyes. His responses were muffled as he told the judge he couldn't afford to hire a private attorney.

On the other side of the glass, his mother, Elizabeth Akins, stood with her head buried into the shoulder of Tracy Burney, his father. She let out a sob as prosecutors requested that bail be set at $1 million.

Speaking to the judge on behalf of the victim's family, Dana Sweatt, the grandmother of Precious Alex, requested that Burney be held without bail.

"In respect to my daughter and my family, and us not knowing the reasons why my granddaughter was taken from us, I request bail be denied," Sweatt said, stopping occasionally to compose herself as she spoke.

She then held up a portrait photograph of her granddaughter, a smiling teenager against a red background.

Townsend, arrested on the warrant, is expected in court Thursday. According to court documents in that case, he was seen by undercover officers in a suspected drug deal in February 2011. The officers stopped Townsend's vehicle and found him with about 7 grams of cocaine and a little over 3 grams of marijuana, the court papers say. Townsend pleaded guilty to fourth-degree drugs misconduct but failed to appear for sentencing, according to court records.

Townsend's other criminal convictions include driving with a revoked license, giving false information to police, weapons misconduct, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident.

Burney, who turns 29 on Friday, has a criminal history that includes two convictions of disorderly conduct and one of malicious destruction of property.

After seeing his son arraigned on murder charges, Tracy Burney said Wednesday he was struggling to understand what had happened. He said he was just as "clueless" as the victim's relatives -- some of whom he had gone to school with -- about why the shooting happened.

"It's really senseless of the kids that we raised ... They don't tend to listen, they just do what they want to do. And it ended with someone's life."

He then walked to Sweatt, the victim's grandmother, and gave her a long hug.

Daily News reporter Tegan Hanlon contributed to this story. Reach Devin Kelly at dkelly@adn.com or 257-4314.

 


By DEVIN KELLY and CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News