Alleged Cheltenham Walmart shooter waives hearing, faces additional charge.
Five shot during August incident
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.