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Teen charged in Heritage High double shooting was facing pending charges in 2020 shooting

Teen charged in Heritage High double shooting was facing pending charges in 2020 shooting

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A woman watches as Newport News police officers and Virginia State Troopers respond the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

A woman watches as Newport News police officers and Virginia State Troopers respond to the scene of a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News on Monday.

NEWPORT NEWS — The 15-year-old charged in the double shooting at Heritage High School on Monday has pending charges stemming from a 2020 shooting in Southeast Newport News.

He’s accused of shooting another teenager on 34th Street near Orcutt Avenue about 3 p.m. on July 6, 2020, multiple sources familiar with the case told the Daily Press. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk about it.

He was 14 at the time.

Three charges in that case — malicious wounding, using a firearm in a felony and underage possession of a firearm — are still pending in Newport News Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Though the sources said the teen pleaded guilty six months ago, a hearing is scheduled in October for a final disposition and sentencing. A juvenile court judge has declined to provide records of that case on the grounds that it’s not yet finalized and could change.

The teen now stands accused in the shooting at Heritage High School Monday morning that left two fellow students wounded.

One of them, a 17-year-old, was shot multiple times. One round struck him behind the ear and lodged in his jaw, while another hit his leg, court documents said. A third bullet struck a left finger. He is being treated at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital and is expected to recover.

A second victim, a 17-year-old girl, was shot in the left shin. She was treated at Riverside Regional Medical Center and released.

Fourteen months earlier, Newport News Police asked for the public’s assistance in solving the shooting in the 1000 block of 34th Street, near Orcutt Avenue.

“On July 6, 2020 at 3:30 p.m., Newport News Communications received a call of a walk-in gunshot victim at a local hospital,” said a tweet from the department on July 17, 2020.

Officers “made contact with the victim,” a 15-year-old male who was “suffering from non-life threatening gunshot wounds,” the tweet added. Pictures of three teens were included, with the question: “Do you recognize these individuals?”

Five days later, that tweet was updated to say detectives had “arrested a male juvenile in relation to this incident,” adding that officers took him to the Newport News Juvenile Detention Center.

It was not immediately clear when the teen was released and on what grounds. The charges are still pending, and further details of the court case aren’t publicly available.

He was enrolled at Heritage High School this year.

The Daily Press has not named the teen because he is being charged as a juvenile in the 2020 shooting, and prosecutors haven’t announced whether they will charge him as an adult in the Heritage case.

Under law, defendants who are either 14 or 15 years old at the time of the alleged offense and charged with certain violent felonies can be charged as either adults or juveniles at the prosecution’s discretion.

Juvenile court records become public when a minor 14 and older is “adjudicated delinquent” — or found guilty — of a felony. A judge can withhold portions of those records “to the extent necessary” to protect minor victims and witnesses.

A search warrant affidavit filed in Newport News Circuit Court this week says the Heritage High shooter was wearing a electronic ankle monitor — a GPS tracking device — issued by Newport News Juvenile Services.

The affidavit said that Heritage High School surveillance cameras captured the shooting, with the teenager opening fire in a hallway during an apparent altercation. Police have said they believe the shooting was targeted.

The 15-year-old, who was turned in by guardians on Monday afternoon, is charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding — each punishable by 20 years to life — and nine gun counts.

The gun charges include “possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.”

The teenager has no finalized felony cases in Newport News, and it could not be immediately determined whether the July 2020 shooting is the prior felony conviction. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Travis White, who handled the teen’s arraignment Tuesday, did not return a phone call asking for clarification.

The teen’s mother declined to speak with the Daily Press this week, and Newport News Public Defender Edward Webb — whose office is representing him on both cases — also declined to comment.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn, whose office is prosecuting both cases, has not returned several calls this week. The Daily Press also has an inquiry out to the Newport News Police Department and is awaiting a response.

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