MICHIGAN CITY – A 16-year-old boy is behind bars at the La Porte County Jail on a $1 million cash bond after being charged with shooting another teen execution-style inside a vehicle on the east side Wednesday night.
Judge Michael Bergerson of La Porte Superior Court 1 found Thursday that probable cause exists to charge Javan D. Brown as an adult with a single count of felony murder for the shooting that occurred in the 200 block of Jackson Street.
Michigan City Police are concerned Wednesday’s shooting may be connected to the Dec. 18 murder of Javan’s older brother, Dareon Brown, according to testimony provided by Detective Michelle Widelski during a probable cause hearing Thursday.
She was granted search warrants for the cell phones of both the defendant and the victim dating back to the first shooting; as well as for the phone of Javan’s mother, who Widelski said arrived at the scene Wednesday around the same time EMS did, possibly sooner.
According to Widelski, Javan Brown called 911 at 7:56 p.m. Wednesday to report a potential drive-by shooting with unknown injuries.
When police arrived minutes later, she said, they found 18-year-old Justin Ameer Garner deceased in the driver’s seat of a white 2014 Chrysler 200. The car was in drive; his foot was on the brake; and a rear passenger door was open.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bethany Beckman presented photographs showing Garner had been shot once in the back of the head.
She said the photos indicate the bullet that killed him was fired from between the back support and head rest of his seat, where investigators photographed a muzzle imprint and bullet hole.
Widelski testified that Javan told police at the scene he had been seated directly behind Garner in the car prior to the shooting.
She said one witness, a teenage girl, told police that she was sitting in the front passenger seat of Garner’s car and was exiting the vehicle to go inside a friend’s house when she heard the shot.
The girl – who also had been sitting in the passenger seat when Dareon Brown was killed last month – told police Wednesday she had seen Javan’s gun sometime prior to Garner having been shot, according to Widelski.
The detective did not say whether the girl is a suspect in the murder.
Widelski also testified that police gained permission from the homeowner to search the residence into which Javan and the girl fled after Wednesday’s shooting. There, they recovered a firearm inside the clothes washing machine, underneath clean, folded towels.
The judge asked whether the victim had been carrying a weapon, but Widelski said officers did not find one during a preliminary search of the vehicle at the scene. And the female witness reportedly told police Garner didn’t carry a firearm.
Javan reportedly made no statements to police outside of the information he provided in his 911 call and confirming at the scene that he had been seated behind Garner in the car.
An initial hearing in his murder case had not been set as of press time Thursday.
Anyone with information regarding the case may call Widelski at 219-874-3221, ext. 1088.