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Teen shooter bound over to grand jury


De’Andre Lamar Mitchell, the Atmore teen charged with attempted murder in a February 27 shooting that left a classmate paralyzed, was recently bound over to a county grand jury after a brief preliminary hearing that the young defendant did not attend.

According to testimony presented by Atmore Police Department Investigator Kenny Sessions at the hearing, the 17-year-old Escambia County High School student’s action was the end result of a fight he had with John Durden, another ECHS student, earlier that day, over a girl.

School officials reportedly suspended both Mitchell and Durden after the fight was broken up.

According to published reports, the APD investigator testified that evidence gathered by police included a text that the alleged shooter sent to Durden, asking Durden to meet him at Houston Avery Park, just off Martin Luther King Drive.

The city detective told District Judge Jeff White that the meeting “turned into a brawl” that included sticks and baseball bats, and Mitchell was roughed up by Durden and another, unidentified, teen.

Sessions further testified that Durden’s mother and Mitchell’s mother each showed up at the park. Witnesses told police that Durden’s mother pulled him into her car, but that Mitchell kept swinging his fists at Durden through the open car window.

Durden’s mother then took her son to a nearby Fourth Street house where Trent Atchison and several friends had gathered in order that he could retrieve a cell phone and backpack he had left there. Durden was still at the house when a few minutes later Mitchell drove up, got out of his car and, according to police reports, fired “five or six shots” into the crowd of teens.

Although Durden was the intended target, the only person hit by the fusillade was Trent Atchison, 17, who took a slug to the chest that penetrated a lung and struck his spinal cord.

Sessions reported to the court that police found three spent 9-mm cartridges at the shooting site. A fourth spent shell was discovered between two mattresses in Mitchell’s bedroom when police executed a search warrant there.

Atchison, while reportedly not targeted by Mitchell, did participate in the events leading up to the shooting, the investigator said. According to Sessions, witnesses reported that the shooting victim first tried to help break up the fight at the school, then took part in the melee at the park.

Mitchell remains free on a $250,000 conditional bond. His mother, 36-year-old Yashetta McKenzie of Atmore, was arrested immediately after she posted her son’s bond and was charged with being complicit in his alleged violent act. She is also free on a $250,000 bond.