- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2000

A District of Columbia grand jury yesterday issued a 24-count indictment against the youth accused of shooting seven persons at the National Zoo in April, an attack that apparently stemmed from an argument and taunts among teens.

Antoine Jones, 16, faces life in prison if convicted on seven counts each of assault with intent to murder while armed and assault with intent to kill while armed, along with numerous other assault and weapons charges.

Rather than discharging the handgun at random, Jones repeatedly fired his weapon in a specific attempt to kill several other people he was arguing with, the indictment says.

The shooting took place as hundreds attended the 2000 African-American Family Celebration, a century-old tradition that brings black families to the zoo on the Monday after Easter.

The incident made headlines around the nation and prompted more calls for gun-control laws even though no current or proposed laws would have prevented the shooting, as The Washington Times first reported April 27.

The shooting occurred about 6 p.m. on April 24 after several fights broke out inside the zoo and groups of teens began tossing bottles across Connecticut Avenue NW.

The youth was taunting a group of teens and displaying and brandishing a handgun minutes before the shooting, according to police testimony and court records.

A D.C. police detective said the argument was over a member of one group being beaten by members of another group.

Police never found the handgun used in the crime, but detectives did collect 9 mm shells at the scene and ammunition at the home of the suspect's grandparents, police sources told The Times.

Police arrested the youth about 24 hours after the shooting. He was trying to hide behind a heater in the basement of his grandparents' home in the 1200 block of Neal Street NE.

Fatherless from age 6 and often truant from school, the suspect grew up in the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast, one of the District's toughest, with a reputation for street-side drug dealing and crime.

His father, James Antonio Jones, began a 29-year prison sentence in 1989 after being convicted for conspiracy to distribute cocaine with drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III, who ran the city's largest cocaine sales operation near the Trinidad neighborhood.

Court records show that the younger Jones is no stranger to criminal activity. At age 13, he was involved in armed robberies and was expelled from school for making death threats, published reports said. But a police source told The Times the youth was only suspended from school for the incident.

He spent most of his time between his mother's ground-floor apartment in the 1600 block of Holbrook Street NE and his grandparents' Northeast home.

He rarely attended the D.C. public schools he was shuffled to after seventh grade, especially as a 10th-grader this past year, when he failed to attend classes at two high schools, school sources said.

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