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Gunman Blames Peer Pressure In 13-Year-Old Trick-or-Treater’s Murder

Hammond, IN – One 13-year-old boy was killed and another was wounded when several men opened fire into a group of trick-or-treaters on Sunday in Indiana.

Lake Criminal Court records showed the incident occurred at about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 as a group of kids were going door-to-door collecting candy in the 3600-block of 167th Street, The Times reported.

Thomas DeLaCruz, 13, was part of the group of trick-or-treaters in the Hessville neighborhood where his grandmother has lived for more than 15 years.

“He was being a kid out with his aunt trick-or-treating, walking with a group of kids,” DeLaCruz’s mother, Jasmin Anderson, told The Times. “And some ignorant, sick person decided to shoot at kids.”

A second child was wounded by the gunfire but authorities have not released his name.

Court records showed that one of the kids in the group, who was wearing a clown mask, told police he had exchanged words with a man in shorts about 45 minutes before the gunshots rang out.

The child told police the man “threatened to get a .38 and shoot them” before he left the area, according to The Times.

Court records showed the children kept trick-or-treating for another few blocks before they noticed they were being stared at by people in a silver car.

The boy in the clown mask told police the silver car parked and five or six people got out, The Times reported.

He told police that one of the people from the car was the man who had threatened to come back and shoot them.

Court records showed that the boy told investigators that when he saw one of the men from the car taking a “shooting stance,” he yelled at his friends to run, The Times reported.

That’s when gunfire erupted, according to the child in the clown mask.

Court documents said that the father of one of the trick-or-treaters took off after the gunman, 23-year-old Desmond L. Crews, The Times reported.

Crews was ultimately apprehended by a Hammond police officer.

He told police that he shot at the children because of peer pressure, The Times reported.

Crews said he was handed a gun by one of his friends and “he felt like he had to shoot” when his friends opened fire.

Court records indicated that he told investigators that the man in shorts who had the confrontation with the kids initially was sitting behind him and “kept saying a group of people could have rolled him and someone was going to die tonight,” The Times reported

Crews said he realized the targets “just little kids” after his friend pointed out the kid in the clown mask.

Court records showed that Crews said he had tried to shoot over the heads of the trick-or-treaters but he wasn’t sure if he had missed them after he saw one of the children collapse.

Crews has been charged with murder and attempted murder, The Times reported.

Hammond Police Lieutenant Steve Kellogg said the shootings occurred about 30 minutes after trick-or-treating had officially ended in Hammond.

Police obtained surveillance video that showed the gunman discarded his weapon in a storage barrel after he fled.

Investigators recovered a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and two magazines from where they had been dumped, according to The Times.

Anderson said her son had been very close to his 10-year-old sister.

“She shouldn’t have to go through this,” the mother said. “I’m only 30 years old. I only got 13 years with my son.”

She was planning a vigil for her son on Thursday, The Times reported.

“If I have to post his picture in the sky, everyone is going to know what this man did to my child,” Anderson said.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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