Four gang members charged in the shooting that killed a 5-year-old Omaha girl were in court Thursday afternoon. Vincent Hicks, facing first-degree murder charges in the death of Payton Benson, will be held without bond. Bond was set at $1 million for the other three suspects.
Additional charges were filed Wednesday against the men initially arrested in connection with the stolen SUV used in the drive-by shooting two weeks ago.
Police say the 20-year-old Hicks fired the bullet that killed Benson. He was also booked for criminal conspiracy, use of a weapon to commit a felony and discharging a firearm at an occupied dwelling.
Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Brown was booked for discharging a firearm at an occupied dwelling and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Twenty-two-year-old Adonus Moses was booked for criminal conspiracy to commit murder, first degree.
Moses and Brown waived their preliminary hearings and the state dropped charges of theft related to the stolen Jeep.
Hicks and Montgomery are scheduled to be back in court March 7.
Jaylen Montgomery’s uncle, Gaylen Montgomery, said Thursday, “I have feelings for Payton's family. I know what they feel. Like her mom said, she don't hold them for hard feelings."
Sources say Jaylen was a front seat passenger in the stolen jeep and authorities believe he fired a handgun at a rival gang member in the street during the incident.
Officials say the intended target, who has not been identified, was a member of the Crips gang. The men in the Jeep are allegedly members of the 38th Street Bloods gang.
Gaylen said, It really hurts to see my nephew and his friends go down like that. You have to be strong. I feel what he's feeling. Nothing will turn out good from this. I think it will be no less than 25 years." He added, “The little girl's family is torn apart just as well as our family. All I can do is keep our head up."
Immediately after court on Thursday, we heard from community members calling for action against such violent gun crimes.
Impact One’s Janee Pannkuk said, “This has got to stop. There is no sense in it."
Pannkuk described a community physically, mentally and emotionally torn apart by gunfire that ripped through the neighborhood surrounding 45th and Bedford on January 15.
“Bullets don't have names,” Pannkuk said. “And unfortunately those unintended consequences have devastating effects on not just the families that are immediately impacted, but also our community."
Kevin Peak and Shaun Murph Jr. are also in custody on gun charges connected to the shooting. Prosecutors say Murph had a stolen firearm in his possession.
Benson was struck by a bullet while eating breakfast inside her home near North 45th Street and Bedford Avenue on January 15th.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said the suspects were driving nearby. "They were driving a stolen vehicle in rival gang territory looking for someone to fire on, found someone, they shot at the unknown individual and in the course of doing so hit the house that Payton Benson was in, killing her."
"These arrests are the product of a community that has stepped forward to assist law enforcement, coupled with gang and homicide detectives that have worked tirelessly to solve this case," said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Investigators say Hicks was armed with a high-powered assault rifle on the day of the shooting and the other men had handguns. WOWT 6 News has learned that authorities have not recovered any of the weapons from the SUV. The bullet that killed Payton went through the wood frame home and through her body. That bullet has not been recovered.