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Charge: Teen said he accidentally fired gun that killed a high school football player

Teens were playing video games before the city's most recent homicide

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A sign says "Leave a message for Da'Qwan
Origami hearts are hung up for Henry Sibley High School students to fill with messages to Da'Qwan Jones-Morris, who was fatally shot inside a home on St. Paul's West Side on Wednesday. The school's media center was open all day for students to visit if they need support or space to grieve. It was staffed by counselors, mental health professionals, and school and district staff.
Courtesy of Henry Sibley High School

Updated: 12:33 p.m.

A Sibley High School football player was fatally shot by a 15-year-old as a group played video games in the basement of a home on the city’s West Side, according to the charge filed Thursday in Ramsey County Juvenile Court. 

A 16-year-old, charged with second-degree manslaughter, told St. Paul police he took a loaded gun to the home of Da’Qwan Jones-Morris, 17, on Wednesday afternoon. He said he first unloaded the gun and gave it to the 15-year-old who started to play with it as the group played the video game “Madden,’’ the charging document said. 

“He was playing with the gun, racking the slide, pulling the trigger and pointing the laser sight. [The 15-year-old] stated that [the 16-year-old] put the magazine back in the gun and handed it back to [the 15-year-old, who] stated he did not know the gun was loaded and he pulled the trigger shooting Da'Qwan Jones-Morris who was playing Madden,’’ according to the complaint.

Police also arrested the 15-year-old in the killing, who is also charged with second-degree manslaughter.

MPR News generally does not name juveniles charged in crimes. 

In a somewhat confusing recounting of events that lead up to the shooting of Jones-Morris, a football standout at Sibley High School, the two jailed teens told different accounts of where they got the gun. 

The 15-year-old initially told police he found it in the bushes. The 16-year-old said he stole it from the passenger seat of an SUV parking in the Sibley High School parking lot on Oct. 31. Later, the 15-year-old said the 16-year-old brought the gun to the home in the 100 block of Annapolis Street East in his backpack. 

Jones-Morris was shot in the torso. The teens called 911 and tried to stop the bleeding, the document said. Paramedics pronounced Jones-Morris dead at the scene. 

This is the 29th shooting death in the city this year. St. Paul's homicide count includes the police shooting of Ronald Davis in September.

Police say a total of 145 people have been shot in St. Paul, so far this year. That compares to 135 shot last year by the end of November. 

St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said the shooting of Jones-Morris “underscores the need for us as a community to come together to end gun violence of any kind.

“Whether that is securing your weapons in your home, whether that is making sure your weapons aren’t stolen or calling us if you know who is carrying guns illegally in the city and certainly who’s shooting them,’’ Linders added. “That’s the most important thing.”

School in mourning

Jones-Morris was a senior at Henry Sibley High School and was a ‘key member of the school's football and basketball teams,' said Principal Ron Monson. 

A man wearing a red baseball cap and jacket.
During a press conference at the school on Thursday, Henry Sibley High School Principal Ron Monson describes Da'Qwan Jones-Morris as "funny, outgoing, and well-liked by students and staff alike."
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

"This is a very sad day for the Warrior community,'' he said in a written statement at the school Thursday afternoon. "Da'Qwan was funny, outgoing and well-liked by students and staff alike." 

Counselors and staff members at the school were on hand to help and support students, he said.

John Carrier, the boy's varsity basketball coach, called Jones-Morris "an amazing young man."

"He had an infectious personality, which pulled in everyone around him. He also had a great sense of humor and could brighten any situation,'' the coach said. "Most of all, he was an amazing teammate who was always there to pull others up. His loss will leave a void in our school and the lives of those who knew him."

Correction (Nov. 8, 2019): An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of times Da’Qwan Jones-Morris was shot. The story has been corrected and updated.