A 16-year-old girl was shot and killed while sitting in the passenger seat of a car in Phoenix on Friday night.
Niani Allen was with three other people in a car that was stopped at a red light at 67th Avenue and Broadway Road when an SUV pulled up alongside them, and a passenger in the SUV opened fire on the car.
The alleged shooter, 18-year-old Jason Lindsey, later told police he started shooting at the car after the driver "shouted gang-related jargon" at him, and said he didn't know Allen was in the car, according to court documents obtained by New Times.
Both Allen and Lindsey had been at a basketball game that night at Sierra Linda High School, at 67th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road, and court records indicate that Lindsey had some sort of altercation earlier that night with someone who ended up in the car with Allen.
One person in the car with Allen said the white SUV Lindsey was in followed them from the high school, and said he saw Lindsey "all of the sudden" shooting out of the rear passenger window of the SUV.
Court records indicate that the car was hit several times, and blew out the rear driver's side window. Allen was hit while sitting in the front passenger seat.
Allen was transported to Phoenix Children's Hospital, but was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Meanwhile, Lindsey was identified as the shooter, and Phoenix police went to Lindsey's mother's apartment, where officers saw the white SUV pull into the parking lot. According to court records, Lindsey ran from the car -- dropping the gun along the way -- although police located him at his mother's apartment.
Bullet casings from the crime scene were 9 mm, the same as the gun Lindsey dropped while running from police, according to court documents. Those records indicate other occupants of that white SUV also identified Lindsey as the shooter.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office assumed the investigation, and although Lindsey initially denied all involvement, court records state he confessed when confronted with the evidence. Those records state:
HE SAID THAT HE DID NOT PURSUE [the other car], BUT WHEN THEY CAME TO A STOP NEXT TO EACH OTHER AT A RED LIGHT, THE DRIVER OF THE BLACK PASSENGER CAR SHOUTED GANG RELATED JARGON AT HIM. ONE OF THE OTHER OCCUPANTS OF THE SUV HANDED HIM A LOADED HANDGUN SO HE AIMED IT AT THE BLACK PASSENGER CAR AND FIRED 2-3 SHOTS , STRIKING IT. HE SAID THAT HE WAS NOT AIMING AT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY AND HE DID NOT KNOW THAT NIANI WAS IN THE VEHICLE.
Lindsey told investigators that he actually knew Allen, and had "crossed paths with her" while leaving the gym at Sierra Linda High School.
UPDATE 3:24 p.m.: We asked MCSO about the extent of possible gang involvement. Deputy Joaquin Enriquez tells New Times that investigators aren't calling this an instance of gang violence, but haven't ruled it out. Enriquez says that the occupants of the two cars were involved with different "party crews."
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