A 15-year-old was charged Thursday with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting a man this past Friday in Des Moines.
Carl Phelps was riding his bicycle while pushing a second bike north on 30th Avenue South when he passed a group of juveniles outside the Shoreham Apartments in Des Moines this past Friday, according to King County prosecutors.
A 10-year-old girl, who was pushing her little brother in a stroller, commented that she’d like one of the bikes — and the 41-year-old Phelps responded in jest, saying he’d trade a bike for the toddler, prosecutors say.
Phelps’ innocuous comment appears to have cost him his life. He was surrounded by the juveniles, herded into the apartment complex’s parking lot, knocked off his bike and then shot once in the chest at close range, according to criminal charges filed against a 15-year-old boy.
After the shooting, the juveniles scattered, some running away and others jumping into a stolen Honda to flee, according to the charges. Des Moines police responded and found Phelps’ body in the northeast corner of the parking lot. Two shell casings were located nearby.
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The 15-year-old was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, accused of killing Phelps with a 10-mm Glock pistol stolen in a residential burglary eight days earlier. He was also charged with possessing a stolen firearm, first-degree burglary and theft of a firearm.
Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said his office is requesting a hearing so a judge can decide whether the 15-year-old should be prosecuted as an adult.
A 14-year-old — who was present when Phelps was shot and participated in an April 28 residential burglary a few blocks away — was charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, possessing a stolen firearm and taking a motor vehicle without permission, according to the charges.
Both teens are students at Pacific Middle School, the charges say.
The Seattle Times generally does not identify juveniles accused of committing crimes unless they are charged as adults.
One witness later told police the juveniles may have been bullying Phelps, the charges say. The witness said Phelps asked for his keys back, and the witness saw one of the juveniles charge Phelps, knocking him off his bike. The witness ran when one of the teens pointed a gun at Phelps, then heard two gunshots, charging papers say.
One of the teens in the group that attacked Phelps told police he believed Phelps’ comment about trading the bicycle for the toddler was made in jest. The teen is identified in charging documents as a “witness.”
Another teen, who was present when Phelps was shot, was detained by police and agreed to allow detectives to listen in on phone calls to the 14-year-old, who said the 15-year-old shot Phelps because he “panicked,” the charges say. The 14-year-old also said he and the 15-year-old stashed the gun on 30th Avenue, and they planned to toss it in Angle Lake.
With the help of a gunpowder-detection dog, investigators found a weapon on Monday in a wooded area roughly two blocks from the apartment complex. The gun’s serial number matched the 10-mm handgun taken in the earlier burglary, the charges say.
The teens, who live about two miles from each other, were arrested Monday afternoon at their residences, where police later found a box of 10-mm ammunition under each boy’s bed, charging papers say.
Police say the 15-year-old said Phelps had wrapped a chain around his hand and punched the teen in the face, though charging papers make no mention of visible injuries to the boy.