GREENWOOD — 18-year-old Tyrique Sevin Radford El is facing a preliminary charge of murder in connection with the shooting death of 16-year-old Whiteland High School student Temario "Mario" Stokes Jr.
Stokes Jr. was a sophomore at Whiteland High School. On August 25, he was found by officers with multiple gunshot wounds near the intersection of Winterwood Drive and Providence Drive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to a preliminary probable cause determination document, Radford El was in the area during a search.
During questioning, Radford El claimed he was at a friend’s house exercising and heard the sirens but had nothing to do with the shooting.
Radford El was moved to a holding cell for safety and requested a lawyer after brief questioning from officers.
After an undetermined time, Radford El decided he wanted to speak with officers, according to court documents.
Officers said Radford El claimed Stokes Jr. had pulled a gun on him weeks prior during an altercation.
During his statement, Radford El explained that he was walking around in the neighborhood on the morning of the shooting when he saw Stokes standing on a bus stop. When he saw Stokes Jr., Radford El claimed in his statement that he was worried Stokes Jr. might have the gun on him still.
Radford El stated that he "reacted too fast." He stated to police that he “just blanked for a second and I just shot”.
He explained to officers he doubted Stokes Jr. even had a weapon on him, according to the court document.
Stokes Jr. was shot multiple times, including to his head, upper arm and lower back, according to the court document.
Radford El claimed he left the weapon, a Taurus G2C .9 mm in a cornfield when he ran away from the shooting.
On Wednesday, Radford El was formally charged with a single count of murder. He's being held at the Johnson County Jail without bond ahead of his initial court appearance, which has yet to be scheduled.
If convicted, Radford El faces 45-65 years in prison.
The Johnson County Prosecutor's Office provided the following statement:
"The JCPO extends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim in this case and appreciation to the law enforcement agencies who responded and helped investigate. This level of violence is uncommon in our community. When it happens all of our law enforcement partners step up to act as one with the singular purpose of helping to solve cases like these, regardless of the jurisdiction where it took place. We look forward to presenting our case in court to hold Radford El accountable for his actions."