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Havertown teen critically wounded in botched drug deal, second teen charged in the shooting

James McCauley is charged with shooting Marquis Mays in the face over an ounce of marijuana.

James McCauley, 17, is led into district court in Broomall by a police officer. McCauley is accused of shooting another teen in the face during a botched drug deal.
James McCauley, 17, is led into district court in Broomall by a police officer. McCauley is accused of shooting another teen in the face during a botched drug deal.Read moreVinny Vella / Staff (custom credit)

One of James McCauley’s friends told police that he knew the 17-year-old kept a gun his car. Two others said they took a ride with McCauley late Tuesday through Havertown and bore witness to a botched drug deal in which he used the stolen weapon to shoot another teen in the face, changing the lives of two Delaware County families.

McCauley was arrested early Wednesday and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and related offenses in the shooting of Marquis Mays, like him a senior at Haverford High School, who investigators said suffered “catastrophic injuries.” The gunfire, police said, came after an argument over an ounce of marijuana worth about $150.

Mays, 18, remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday night at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with the bullet still lodged in his neck, according to Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland.

As Mays, an offensive lineman and receiver on Haverford’s football team, lay in a hospital bed in Philadelphia, McCauley sat in handcuffs in a Broomall courtroom. District Judge Robert D’Agostino set bail at $1 million cash and scheduled a preliminary hearing for next Thursday. McCauley was sent to the county prison.

His attorney, Christopher Koschier, said after the hearing that “there are often two or three or more sides to every story," and that his client hadn’t had the opportunity to “rebut or challenge the narrative put forth by the District Attorney’s Office.”

McCauley’s family said little as they left court, with his mother covering her face and saying only that the shooting was in self-defense. His grandfather, misty-eyed, said the shooting “is a tragedy.”

A teen who accompanied McCauley to the drug deal told police that one of Mays’ friends had attacked him, according to the affidavit of probable cause for McCauley’s arrest. The witness said he and his cousin hitched a ride with McCauley in his mother’s Lincoln sedan Tuesday night. The three traveled to Rose Tree Lane in Havertown, where they were met by three other teens, including Mays.

Inside the sedan, the teens discussed the marijuana sale. During the conversation, one of Mays’ friends grew agitated that a friend of McCauley’s “became touchy” with Mays, he told police. An argument ensued, and Mays’ friend told detectives he punched the other teen in the face as the group got out of the car.

As the teens tussled, the witnesses said, McCauley pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and fired once, striking Mays in the face, according to the affidavit.

Police arrived shortly afterward and found Mays in the street bleeding from a gunshot wound, according to Haverford Township Police Chief John Viola.

Using surveillance footage from surrounding houses and statements from the witnesses, detectives were able to identify McCauley and arrested him as he left home to go to school, Viola said.

Investigators found the handgun used in the shooting hidden in a shed on the property, according to the affidavit. It had been reported stolen from another home in the township during a burglary in February 2018. Inside the Lincoln, detectives found a spent shell casing.