GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Police now say two teenagers accused of shooting a popular high school football player to death outside a Dave & Busters were looking for someone to rob on the night of the murder.
Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson was at the Gwinnett County Jail Friday, where police revealed more details about the shooting death of 17-year-old Elijah DeWitt.
DeWitt was a star football player at Jefferson High School in Jackson County. He was shot and killed outside the Dave & Buster’s at Sugarloaf Mills on Oct. 5 while out with friends.
Days later, 19-year-old Kemare Bryan and 19-year-old Chandler Richardson were arrested on murder charges in DeWitt’s death.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Until now, their motives were unclear. Police initially said DeWitt knew his killers, but DeWitt’s parents insisted from the beginning that he wasn’t friends with them.
On Friday, police said text messages from the suspects revealed why they were there and what they intended to do.
Police say that Bryan and Richardson met the victim just days before they allegedly shot him to death in what they called a “surprise attack.”
Days before the murder, police said Bryan and Richardson approached DeWitt and his group of friends to ask if they could buy drugs from them.
“They were approached by three individuals who asked the victim if they had any marijuana they could purchase,” a detective said.
The detective said there was an apparent drug deal on Oct. 3, but it didn’t involve DeWitt.
- Surveillance video shows teens accused of murdering star football player arrive at Gwinnett jail
- ‘Everybody’s protector:’ Girlfriend, sister of murdered football player say they want answers
- Two arrested in connection to shooting death of star Georgia football player
- Mom of murdered high school football player reveals what he did in his final days
On Oct. 5, police said Bryan and Richardson were at the Dave & Buster’s again and recognized DeWitt and a friend he was with.
“They noticed the victim standing inside with his friends,” police said. “They were going back and forth, and basically they were looking for people in the mall to rob.”
Police said that after Richardson and Bryan attacked DeWitt, the unarmed teen tried to fight them off, which is when Bryan pulled the gun.
“Bryan removes the handgun from his waistband and begins to raise his right hand, point the gun at the victim’s chest and then the trigger is pulled,” police said.
Police said they tracked Bryan and Richardson down through surveillance video and cellphone records.
Dawn DeWitt, Elijah’s mother, said her son was enjoying his fall break and spending the time with family and friends when he was killed. She said that on Wednesday night, he had football practice, played golf and then went to play games at Dave & Buster’s.
“I wish we could say there was a fight or something like that, but he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dawn DeWitt said. “I talked to the detective today, and (Elijah) was not friends with them.”
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
©2022 Cox Media Group