The third man suspected of being involved in a West Philadelphia shootout that left a 7-year-old boy dead from a stray bullet surrendered to police on Thursday.
Damar B. Jones will face charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, firearms violations, tampering with evidence, and related charges, police said.
One day before Jones surrendered, he had posted on Facebook that he and another man did not initiate Saturday’s gun battle, and that he picked up his gun and returned fire because he was targeted by a man he didn’t know.
Jones, while wanted on a murder warrant, said in two posts published Wednesday that he was “not the killer” of Zamar Jones, and that he was “hurt” and “sick” over the boy’s death, in part because he has an 8-year-old daughter.
“I never wanted for that kid to die my life was in danger,” Jones wrote.
Jones said he and Michael Banks, who police believe also participated in the shootout, “don’t beef, look for trouble or nothing,” and that they did not know Christopher Linder, the man police have accused of driving onto the 200 block of North Simpson Street and spraying gunfire into a crowd.
Police have said at least two men returned fire, though they have not specified who fired the shots.
Banks had surrendered Wednesday, and was arraigned early Thursday on charges of murder, attempted murder and related crimes, according to court records. He was being held without bail.
Jones did not appear to shy from admitting his role on Facebook. “We ain’t running or hiding we battling this [expletive] out,” he wrote. He denied involvement in the murder, saying he was “innocent,” but added that he would “stand on all ten of my toes about my involvement” in the gun battle, calling it “defense in my situation.”
Jones’ explanation did not satisfy everyone. Inspector Derrick Wood, a police commander who oversees the area where the shooting happened, wrote on Twitter: “Apology not accepted! Turn yourself in!”
Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, declined to comment.
Police have said Linder drove onto Simpson around 7:40 p.m. Saturday and fired his gun out of his Chevrolet Silverado.
One of the shots hit Zamar in the head as he sat on his porch next to his toy race car and scooter.
Linder crashed his truck on Simpson, police said, then stole an SUV and drove away. But police said he returned to the scene and encountered officers responding to the crime. They chased Linder and arrested him, and he has been arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder, and related crimes. He remains jailed without bail.
Zamar was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he died Monday.
Police have said the motive remains under investigation. Jones said on Facebook that “we were targeted by an unknown man,” and that he had never seen or spoken with Linder before.
“I don’t know what was the cause I’m really not sure,” he wrote.
In 2018, Jones pleaded guilty in Delaware County to a count of terroristic threats and received a one-year probation sentence, according to court records.
Banks’ criminal record includes a guilty plea in February 2019 to illegally carrying a gun in Philadelphia. He received a three-to-nine-month jail sentence, court records show, but was given immediate parole for time served and was sentenced to two years of probation.
At the time of that guilty plea, he was already on probation for a 2017 conviction in Delaware County for conspiracy in a retail theft case, according to court records. In April 2019 — after pleading guilty in the gun case in Philadelphia — he was sentenced to 12 to 24 months in jail for violating probation in the Delaware County case, the records show. They do not specify when he was released.
Zamar’s death came amid a sharp increase in the number of children shot in the city. Wednesday night, just hours after a community vigil for Zamar, a 6-year-old girl was struck by a stray bullet in West Philadelphia. As of late Thursday afternoon, there had been no arrests in that shooting.