- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2000

The 16-year-old accused of shooting seven children at the National Zoo pulled out his gun as he left the zoo, walked across Connecticut Avenue and opened fire into a group of people, court records show.

District of Columbia Superior Court Commissioner Ronald H. Goodbread yesterday ordered Antoine Bernard Jones held without bail until a May 12 preliminary hearing, saying his release would be "a danger" to the community.

"Not only did he have a gun but he brought it … to the National Zoo," Commissioner Goodbread said. "And then he fired it into a group of bystanders."

Mr. Jones, of the 1200 block of Neal Street NE, is charged with assault with intent to murder while armed in Monday's shooting of seven children as they were leaving the National Zoo 2000 African-American Family Celebration.

The shooting occurred about 6 p.m. after groups of teens were tossing bottles across Connecticut Avenue NW and after several fights broke out inside the zoo.

Law enforcement sources said Mr. Jones, a 10th-grader, is suspended from Spingarn High School and is the son of James Antonio Jones, a former enforcer for an immense drug-dealing operation.

Jones was convicted on Dec. 6, 1989, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine with drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III, who ran the city's largest cocaine sales operations near the Trinidad neighborhood where the 16-year-old Mr. Jones lives.

Jones, who was known as Edmond's "vice president for enforcement," is serving a 29-year sentence in federal prison.

Mr. Jones was arrested Tuesday about 24 hours after the shooting. Police found him hiding behind a heater in the basement of his grandfather's house at the Neal Street address.

Two witnesses said they saw Mr. Jones walking inside the zoo with his 9 mm pistol, which he pulled out again as he left the zoo, court records show.

A "witness observed the defendant show a handgun while walking on the zoo grounds. He observed the defendant display the weapon repeatedly as the defendant was walking toward the Connecticut Avenue entrance to the zoo," according to the affidavit for the arrest warrant.

Another witness said he saw Mr. Jones pull out the gun inside the zoo and "hold it along side his leg."

The affidavit said several people with Mr. Jones were throwing objects across the street, where a witness was standing, and then saw Mr. Jones "take out his handgun and begin to fire it at the crowd."

Police have not recovered the gun.

A police source familiar with the investigation said Mr. Jones appeared to be a fairly good teen-ager who would walk his 5-year-old brother to school, but he had some brushes with the law.

Court records indicate he has a juvenile record. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Jones was involved in armed robberies when he was 13 and was expelled from school for making death threats, but a police source told The Washington Times that Mr. Jones was suspended.

"On the outside, he looks like a pretty nice kid, but … he's obviously got a short temper," the police source said. "Maybe he's trying to live up to his dad's reputation."

Davina Simmons, a neighbor of Mr. Jones' who went to yesterday's hearing, said the youth was a pretty good child.

"I don't think he did [the shooting]," Mrs. Simmons said. "I don't think he should have been charged as an adult."

D.C. law requires anyone 16 or older to be charged as an adult when charged with assault with intent to murder.

Mr. Jones' attorney, Renee Raymond, said statements by the two witnesses were not corroborated and that they were too far away to identify her client.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Berman said "a witness specifically saw him point the gun at [the witness] and firing it at him."

Commissioner Goodbread noted that it was still daylight when the shooting occurred and the witnesses could have identified Mr. Jones. He ordered Mr. Jones held without bail.

A preliminary hearing was set for May 12 before Superior Court Judge Noel A. Kramer.

Mr. Jones is accused of shooting Harris Bates, 11, in the head and five other children in the legs or upper body and a seventh in the hand. Police recovered four shell casings and believe several victims were hit with the same bullet or fragments.

Harris is still in critical condition at Children's Hospital; two others, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were in good condition and were expected to be released soon. The other victims were treated at hospitals and released.

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