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Why We Carry: Mistaken Identity Leads To Murder Of Innocent 74-Year-Old Man By Convicted Criminal

MOBILE, ALABAMA – A 74-year-old man was senselessly murdered when a criminal hellbent on revenge for another shooting kicked in his door and opened fire.  Police say that the incident occurred at the man’s apartment in Midtown. They are looking for DeAngelo Demetrius Merrill, 28, in connection to the murder, which was the final act in a chain of event Wednesday that left two men dead and a woman in critical condition. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous.

It began with an argument between James Walters and his two daughters at their residence in the 500 block of Williams Street. As the shouting got louder, another unidentified man attempted to intervene, and Walters ran toward him.

According to Interim Police Chief Roy Hodge, “The preliminary investigation indicates Mr. Walters produced a firearm. The other individual produced his firearm and shot Mr. Walters in what appears to be self-defense, based on the information that we have so far.”

Chief Hodge said the man fired three times, hitting Walters, and unintentionally wounding a 23-year-old woman at the home, leaving her in critical condition. Walters staggered down the street, collapsed and died.

Enter Mr. Merrill, the boyfriend of the injured woman. He was not at the scene, but when he learned of the incident, he went straight to Pathways Apartments on Florida Street seeking revenge. He kicked in a door and fired multiple shots. The problem (one of many) – it was the wrong apartment, and Merrill fatally shot 74-year-old James Jones, who was a kidney dialysis patient.

“Another unintended consequence, you know, was the death of Mr. Jones, who, by all rights, was doing what most everyone does, you know, at that time of night,” he said. “He’s in his home, you know, minding his own business. And he, you know, becomes a victim, you know, of an incident that happened in another part of town.”

Merrill has a long arrest record for drug, gun, and theft-related charges. In 2019 he plead guilty to illegal gun possession and unlawful drug distribution, serving only a year in jail. Prosecutors sought to revoke his probation after Prichard police charged him in March with drug possession, but Mobile County Circuit Judge Ben Brooks dismissed the case last month and reinstated the defendant’s probation after prosecution witnesses failed to appear for a court hearing. Merrill was currently out on bond on drug charges.

Once again, an innocent person has died at the hands of a convicted criminal who was barred from legally owning a firearm.

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