FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Police say two teenage boys were involved in the fatal shooting of high school student Wesley Gennings and that the crime was committed over marijuana.
Detectives announced Friday they had arrested one of the suspects in the case -- a 16-year-old Thomas Jefferson High School student -- and were looking for 14-year-old Diante Pellum, an eighth-grader at Saghalie Middle School, who is on the run.
The victim, Gennings, was also 16 and a student at Decatur High School. According to court documents, Gennings and the 16-year-old suspect were described as friends.
Police say Pellum was with the older suspect when they met Gennings to buy marijuana from him. Gennings was shot in the back of the head while in his car in a Taco Bell parking lot in Federal Way. Witnesses reported seeing two people getting out of the back of Gennings' car after hearing the gunshot. Police say those two people were Pellum and the 16-year-old.
Police arrested the 16-year-old suspect Thursday at Thomas Jefferson High School and said they found a gun in his backpack.
Federal Way Public Schools sent a letter to parents alerting parents of the arrest.
It’s a rare move by police to release the identity and picture of a juvenile suspect, but detectives say 14-year-old Diante Pellum is so dangerous they felt they needed to alert the public since he is on the loose. Police say Pellum is considered armed and dangerous; if anyone spots him do not make contact but call 911.
“This was a senseless, violent act,” Federal Way Police Department spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.
In juvenile court on Friday, the 16-year-old suspect cried as a judge found probably cause to hold him for investigation of first-degree murder. He is being held without bail.
“These two suspects sought out to meet the victim here in Federal Way to purchase marijuana,” Schrock said.
In court documents, witnesses said the suspects didn’t have any intentions of paying Gennings for the marijuana.
Wesley's mother, Lonie Gennings, believes her son did not do drugs. She is hoping the 14-year-old will turn himself in.
“I think his parents are hiding him, because if you knew your child did wrong I don’t know why you don’t hold them by their hand and do the right thing,” Gennings said.
Lonie wants both teens to be charged as adults for killing her only child.
“I hope you are gone for a long time. I hope you don’t get the chance to do this to somebody else's kids,” Gennings said.
Since Wesley's murder, the outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous, with many leaving flowers and others calling police with leads.
“He’s a respectable young man, he was very liked and loved in the community,” his mother said.
Students and teachers described Wesley as a leader on the football field and in the classroom, a sophomore who excelled in rigorous courses and appeared bound for a bright future.
Court documents also say the 16-year-old suspect is a felon and a person of interest in other crimes involving firearms.