The Columbus Dispatch

Witnesses told police 13-year-old Sinzae Reed shot first at Krieg Butler

- Jordan Laird Columbus Dispatch USA TODAY NETWORK

The arraignmen­t of Krieg Butler Wednesday revealed that several witnesses told authoritie­s 13-year-old Sinzae Reed shot at Butler in his truck before Butler got out of his truck and fired back, killing Reed.

Butler, who previously told authoritie­s he fired in self-defense in the fatal October shooting of Sinzae, was arraigned Wednesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on two felony charges.

Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor David Zeyen said during Butler’s arraignmen­t Wednesday that witnesses told police a boy in a hoodie and mask shot at Butler. Zeyen also said several additional witnesses said somebody removed a firearm from next to Sinzae before police arrived.

Zeyen said other witnesses who did not see what happened reported hearing two volleys of gunfire. He said these witnesses did not know Butler.

These revelation­s explain why a Franklin County grand jury declined last week to indict Butler for murder in Reed’s death.

Butler, 37, is charged with improper handling of a firearm and tampering with evidence — but not murder or another charge related directly to Sinzae’s death. Butler was arrested on Sunday after a Franklin County grand jury returned its decision on charges last week.

Butler appeared in court Wednesday via video from the Franklin County Jail.

Zeyen said the improper handling charge stems from the fact that Butler could not legally carry a loaded firearm in his vehicle since he was convicted of theft in 2010, a fifthdegre­e felony.

Butler also disposed of the gun he shot Sinzae with, and did not tell police at first where to find it, Zeyen said.

Franklin County Common Pleas Magistrate Jennifer Cordle set Butler’s bond at $100,000 cash surety.

Dejuan Sharp, who serves as a spokespers­on for the Reed family, told The Dispatch after the hearing that Reed did not have a gun or fire at Butler.

“There has been no gun ever found, ever,” Sharp said.

Sharp pointed out that Zeyen said during the hearing that no shell casings were found by where Sinzae allegedly fired from. Zeyen also said no shell casings were found by where Butler fired from or elsewhere on the scene.

“If you’re Black, you can die in any manner and no one cares,” Sharp said.

The shooting of Sinzae, a Black teen, by Butler, a white man, garnered local and national attention for months after it happened on the afternoon of Oct. 12, 2022.

Activists criticized the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office for letting Butler go free while authoritie­s investigat­ed his claim of self-defense and for not bringing the case to a grand jury sooner.

According to Columbus police, Butler fatally shot Sinzae outside at the Wedgewood Apartments complex in the Hilltop where they both resided. An autopsy report by the Franklin County Coroner’s Office later revealed Reed was shot twice — once in the right wrist and once in the chest.

Within a few days of the shooting, police arrested Butler and charged him with murder. After Butler told authoritie­s he shot in self-defense, Tyack’s office dropped the charges to await additional evidence from city homicide detectives.

Last week, prosecutor­s presented evidence and brought several witnesses before a grand jury over two days before the nine randomly selected citizens decided what to charge Butler with.

Improper handling of a firearm is a felony of the fourth degree with a maximum possible sentence of 18 months in prison if convicted.

Tampering with evidence is a thirddegre­e felony with a maximum sentence of three years in prison. @Lairdwrite­s

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Sinzae Reed

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