DALLAS (AP) — Police say a suspect arrested Friday in the killing of an Iraqi man taking photos of his first snowfall said he was looking for whoever shot at his girlfriend's home when he randomly came upon the victim and opened fire.
Nykerion Nealon, 17, was being held without bond on a murder charge in last week's death of Ahmed Al-Jumaili, who in February moved to Dallas to escape violence in his homeland.
"We don't believe he knew Mr. Al-Jumaili. We don't believe he knew Mr. Al-Jumaili's ethnicity," police Maj. Jeff Cotner told a news conference Friday. Cotner had earlier said police do not believe the killing was a hate crime.
Al-Jumaili was outside his apartment complex taking snapshots of snow on the night of March 4 when he was shot.
"Mr. Al-Jumaili was enjoying the snowfall with his wife and brother when he was shot, then he ran toward his apartment and collapsed in the breezeway," Cotner said.
Nealon didn't contact police about gunfire earlier that evening at his girlfriend's nearby apartment complex until after the fatal shooting, Cotner said. Police believe Nealon had a rifle when he and three friends went out to find out who had opened fire at the apartment. Police are investigating whether gang activity was involved.
"While walking through the apartment complex, they observed the victim and his family taking pictures in the snow," Cotner said.
Detectives located 15 shell casings near where Al-Jumaili was shot, Cotner said.
A potential witness on Tuesday contacted police in suburban Richardson to report Nealon as a possible suspect.
Nealon gave police permission to search his home. Officers recovered an unfired cartridge of the same type of shell found at the scene of the fatal shooting, Cotner said.
No attorney was listed for Nealon. Nobody else has been charged in the slaying.
Zahraa Altaie, Al-Jumaili's widow, her "hope and relief that Ahmed's killer will face justice."
"This news of the suspect being caught will not bring back my beautiful Ahmed, but it gives me some relief and I feel better knowing that this guy is in custody and justice is on its way," she said in a statement.
The victim's father-in-law, Mohammed Altaae, was at the police news conference but did not comment.
Altaae earlier this week told The Associated Press that Al-Jumaili fled violence in Iraq to reunite with his wife and had been in Texas just three weeks when he was killed.
"He had a lot of faith in his future," Altaae said, "a lot of faith in his destiny."