The 14-year-old boy arrested in connection with the shooting death of college student and Army reservist Xavier Arnold waived his first court appearance Monday before a DeKalb County magistrate judge.
The teen, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, was arrested Saturday for his alleged part in the robbery attempt and shooting death of the 21-year-old Arnold, said Atlanta Police Department spokesman Sgt. Gregory Lyon. The teen has been charged with one count of murder and one count of armed robbery, Lyon said.
On Thursday night, Arnold, his girlfriend and another friend were on a bike trail in the Kirkwood community when shots were fired during the attempted robbery, Atlanta police said. The trio had planned to take pictures of graffiti on the trail when they were approached by two men, according to police.
The suspects shot Arnold in the head and his friend in the leg as Arnold’s girlfriend watched, police said. Both men were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, but Arnold did not survive his injuries.
“It’s just devastating,” family friend Rodney Reid told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You see these stories on the news or read them in the paper, and they touch your heart. But you have not an inkling of a clue until it hits your family or a friend.”
Investigators had identified suspects late Friday, but no names were released, according to Sgt. Greg Lyon. U.S. Marshals were assisting police with locating the suspects, Lyon said.
Arnold graduated from Chamblee High School in 2010 and enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design, as well as enlisted in the Army Reserves.
“He was striving,” Reid said Friday night. “He was trying to find his way. He was a person that really loved life.”
Reid said “X” had no money in his wallet and a cellphone that didn’t work, making his sudden death even harder for his family to accept. Arnold had recently moved home from Savannah, where he was attending school, and planned to attend classes at the Atlanta campus, Reid said. Recently, Arnold had gotten a job at a bar in the Kirkwood area, and his mother worried about him working late hours.
“Mom, just chill out. I’m gonna be okay,” Arnold said, according to Reid.
A talented artist, Arnold had the ability to look at something and draw it, and often amazed his family with his creativity. But in the reserves, he worked as an engineer, Reid said. Arnold’s interests were diverse and he was proud of his own accomplishments.
Late Friday, his family was planning his funeral while residents of the Kirkwood community rallied to fight violence in their neighborhood.
“My family was on the trail just a couple of hours before that, and it’s a common trail that we walk down and bike down,” Patrick Peyer told Channel 2 Action News. “We should not have to live in fear.”
Many homes displayed “X” signs, both to honor Xavier and to announce the community wants the violence to stop.
“We’ve got to come together as a whole and ex-out this nonsense,” Reid said.
A wake will be held for Xavier on Friday from 7 to 8 p.m., at Donald Trimble Funeral Home, 1876 2nd Ave., Decatur.
The funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m., at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, 6400 Woodrow Rd., Lithonia.
Police were following leads in the case and asked for the public’s help in the case. Late Friday, Crime Stoppers Atlanta announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anonymous tips can be phoned in to 404-577-8477 or submitted online at crimestoppersatlanta.com.
“They’re going to get caught, and when they do, their lives are gonna be over,” Reid said.
— Marcus K. Garner and Misty Williams contributed to this report.