An arrest has been made in the “senseless” shooting death of a 19-year-old college student in Delaware. Police in the town of New Castle announced on August 26 that Cheryl Jennings, 46, had been arrested and accused of shooting Maurice Evans. He was a student at Delaware State University and had aspired to become a doctor. Evans was killed at around 4 a.m. while he went to his summer job at a FedEx store in Bear, Delaware. He was shot in the chest and crashed his car as a result, Evans died at Christiana Medical Center the following day. In July, County Police Chief Colonel Elmer Setting called the shooting “senseless.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Is No Known Connection Between Evans & Jennings
In announcing Jennings’ arrest, New Castle Chief of Police Colonel E.M. Setting said, “This arrest by no means marks the end of our involvement or the end of this investigation. It does, however, provide some much-needed closure to the family and community. In a case like this, where there is no known association between the victim and defendant, the extraordinary efforts of our detectives as well as help from the public must be recognized and commended.”
While County Executive Thomas Gordon said, “Malcolm Evans was truly an innocent victim, a young man who lived with his parents and brother, went to college, worked a job and dreamed of becoming a doctor. His death is a loss to all of us and we continue to share his family’s grief.”
NBC Philadelphia reports that Jennings has been charged with first-degree murder, firearm possession during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited due to past felony conviction.
At the time, Delaware Online reported that there had been several men in the area where Evans was shot but they fled after the shots were fired.
According to a Facebook post from the New Castle Police Department, Jennings is being held at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute. The Middletown Transcript reports that Jennings was taken into custody at her home on the first block of Terry Court on the night of August 24.
2. When She Was Accused of Being a Racist, One of Jennings’ Friends Shot Back Saying the Suspect ‘Is Married to a Black Man’
On the Facebook page for the New Castle Police Department, one commenter accused Jennings of racism in the Evans shooting. One of the suspect’s friends, Erika Beard, wrote that Jennings is not a racist as she’s married to a black man. Another of her friends, Philadelphia drag queen Brenda LaMour, wrote on her Facebook page, “I’m gagging. I’ve know Cheryl Jennings for years and she’s not a racist person like she’s being painted by the news media. I’m not sure what happened, but my prayers go out to the young man’s family!”
According to Jennings’ Facebook page, she’s from Philadelphia and at the time of her arrest was living in Bear, Delaware. She’s a graduate of Clearview Regional High School in New Jersey and Delaware Technical Community College. Her last job is listed at the Blood Bank of Delmarva. Jennings says she’s been married since August 2001.
3. Evans’ Organs Were Donated & Saved the Lives of 4 People
Evans’ mother, Terry, told the media after Jennings’ arrest was announced, “Over the last six weeks, my family and friends have spent so many sleepless nights wondering who and why someone would commit such an unspeakable crime against such an amazing young man.”
At the time of his death, Evans was an aspiring doctor and student at Delaware State University. CBS Philadelphia reports that he had no criminal record “and no involvement with drugs.”
Delaware Online reports that Evans’ heart, liver and kidneys were given to people in need. His father told ABC Philadelphia, “[Evans] wanted to be a doctor and the way that we look at this is he saved four lives at one time.”
4. There Had Been a $40,000 Reward Out for Credible Information in Jennings’ Shooting Death
Authorities credited community tips as leading them to Jennings’ arrest. An award of $40,000 was out for credible information that led to an arrest in relation to Evans’ case. Delaware Online reports that the money came from a local government partnership with Crime Stoppers. In July, Evans’ younger Miles, said, “It’s past the Evans family and into the community now. Because now we have a murderer on the streets who can take another life as fast as he took Malcolm’s.” His mother, Terry, also said at the time, “If you feel like you don’t want to help the police because of all of the things that have been going on with the police, I guarantee that if you don’t want to help police, then help yourselves. Help get someone off the streets that could possibly do this to your family.”
5. In 2014, the Violent Crime Rate in Wilmington Was More 3 Times the National Average
A 2014 Newsweek feature found that the city of Wilmington, just a few miles south of Bear, where Evans was killed, had a violent crime rate of three times the national average.
Data provided by Delaware Online shows that there has been 2016 shootings in the city of Wilmington in 2016, 17 of which were fatal.