BPD names Taco Bell shooting victim: Jaylon Cohen of Memphis

[UPDATED: Corrects suspect’s hometown and adds details from detective’s affidavit on the case.]

The 17-year-old killed in the July 3 shooting at Taco Bell in Bartlett was Jaylon Cohen of Memphis, a spokesman for the Bartlett Police Department reported Friday.

Suspected shooter: Kentrell Spight

The suspect, 18-year-old Kentrell Keshun Spight of Cordova, was arrested at home on July 4 and has been charged with first-degree murder and also with employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony.

The shooting was at the Taco Bell on U.S. 70, just two-tenths of a mile from the Bartlett Police Department headquarters.

Officers were working the Bartlett Fireworks Extravaganza on Tuesday night, July 3, when a fight break out in the restaurant’s parking lot as thousands of people were leaving the city’s fireworks display. The fight escalated to an estimated dozen shots being fired on the west side of the lot just past 9:30 p.m.

An officer across the street in the Kroger parking lot heard the shots and began running toward the sound, passing frightened citizens who were fleeing and yelling that someone was shooting. Officers cleared the restaurant and parking lot but didn’t find anyone actively shooting.

They did find Cohen between two vehicles. He had been shot several times and was bleeding heavily from his chest and groin wounds. A bystander who was an emergency medical technician (EMT) began medical aid on the victim with the help of several officers. They applied tourniquets to the victim’s right arm and left leg, as well as chest seals to his right side and lower left back. The Bartlett Fire Department Unit 3 raced to the scene around 9:40 p.m. and took the victim to Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett.

Cohen was pronounced dead at 10:19 p.m.

Details from the affidavit

According to an affidavit in the case, one of the witnesses, Lawrence Cox, said he saw the shooter “shoot the victim one time and, when he fell, stood directly over him and unloaded multiple shots.” This statement was consistent with the crime scene’s findings.

The victim’s girlfriend, Ja’Mya Smith, said in a police interview that she saw an Instagram Live video the day of the shooting. The video showed Jai Dillard, Spight and Juanyai Walls taunting the victim and letting him know they were looking for him.

After a number of interviews pointed to Spight as the suspect, officers arrested him and took him in for questioning. He waived his Miranda rights  and said he was on the restaurant’s parking lot near the scene of the shooting, but he fled when he heard shots. He said he went across the highway and got in a red Chevrolet Tahoe. The police saw and ordered everyone out of the vehicle.

Spight said he was wearing clothes similar to the ones that witnesses described the shooter as wearing, although his description was slightly different.

Spight also admitted to sending Instagram messages to the victim during a dispute.

A witness to the shooting picked Spight as the shooter out of a six-photo lineup.