Al­leged Chel­tenham Wal­mart shooter waives hear­ing, faces ad­di­tional charge.

Five shot dur­ing Au­gust in­ci­dent

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Finarelli

The man ac­cused of shoot­ing five peo­ple at the Wal­mart in Chel­tenham last month waived his pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing be­fore District Judge Christo­pher Cer­ski Sept. 14 “in or­der to spare the vic­tims and fam­i­lies of re­liv­ing all the de­tails,” his at­tor­ney, Abi­gail Leeds, said after­ward.

Keenan Jones, 30, of the 2100 block of Elkins Av­enue, Philadel­phia, was ar­rested fol­low­ing the Aug. 14 in­ci­dent and charged with at­tempted mur­der and mul­ti­ple counts of ag­gra­vated as­sault, reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­other per­son, re­sist­ing ar­rest and var­i­ous weapons vi­o­la­tions.

Clad in a ma­roon prison jump­suit, with his hands cuffed and his feet shack­led, Jones nod­ded to his fi­ancée, who was in the court­room with their baby son, who was born the day be­fore the in­ci­dent.

“[Jones] did ap­pre­ci­ate the of­fi­cers’ al­low­ing him to kiss his son af­ter the hear­ing,” Leeds said.

Jones was in line with his sis­ter at the Wal­mart, 1000 S. Eas­ton Road, around 6 p.m. Aug. 14 when he took his sis­ter’s semi-au­to­matic hand­gun and walked to­ward the back of the line, shoot­ing a man at close range, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint and a news re­lease from the Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

The af­fi­davit spells out a scene of chaos and the chase that en­sued.

Sur­veil­lance video shows Jones, af­ter shoot­ing the first vic­tim, run through the front of the store, fir­ing the gun, and then tar­get a woman, strik­ing her four times and sev­er­ing an artery, while em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers run to es­cape.

Jones and his sis­ter then fled the Wal­mart in a Pon­tiac Grand Prix, which he briefly ex­ited at Chel­tenham and Mt. Pleas­ant av­enues, toss­ing the 9-mm hand­gun along the high­way di­vider, and then got back in the ve­hi­cle and con­tin­ued east­bound on Chel­tenham into Philadel­phia. In the 1300 block of East Sedg­wick Av­enue, Jones rear-ended an un­oc­cu­pied marked Philadel­phia po­lice ve­hi­cle and fled on foot, with the two of­fi­cers, who were tak­ing an un­re­lated com­plaint, chas­ing af­ter him.

A “vi­o­lent strug­gle en­sued,” dur­ing which both of­fi­cers were in­jured, be­fore Jones was re­strained and taken into cus­tody.

A to­tal of five peo­ple suf­fered non-fa­tal gun­shot wounds and mul­ti­ple shell cas­ings were re­cov­ered in the store. The hand­gun was re­cov­ered by po­lice with the mag­a­zine and cham­ber empty.

The rea­son for the vi­o­lent out­burst re­mains a mys­tery at this point.

Not­ing she did not have all the dis­cov­ery yet, Leeds, re­fer­ring to the sur­veil­lance video, said, “No one is say­ing that was not him there,” but added she did “not know at this point how he will plead.”

“It’s too early to say if there will be a trial” and “too early to tell” if com­pe­tency is­sues might come into play, she said.

“There are a num­ber of av­enues that have to be ex­plored,” Leeds said.

Mont­gomery County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Tonya Lupinacci, who is pros­e­cut­ing the case, an­nounced at the start of the hear­ing that the com­plaint was amended to add a fifth count to a charge of ag­gra­vated as­sault with a weapon, one weapons charge was up­graded to a first-de­gree felony and a charge of car­ry­ing a firearm with­out a li­cense was added.

Jones is be­ing held at Mont­gomery County Prison on $1 mil­lion cash bail. For­mal ar­raign­ment in county court is sched­uled for Nov. 7.

Keenan Jones

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