A man in rural Missouri was shot to death and a woman was injured following a heated social media exchange.
Isiah Craig Fitzgerald, 18, was killed after a war of words on Facebook precipitated by Fitzgerald reacting with a laughter emoji on the profile photo of Tanner Watkins and his girlfriend.
Watkins, 20, and Kaleb M. Ramsey, 18, were arrested and charged with murder, three counts of assault, four counts of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action, KFVS reports.
Sikeston Department of Public Safety said the victims agreed to meet at a park to fight, which became the scene of the shooting.
Reports say Fitzgerald was shot in the face and pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, an 18-year-old woman, was taken to hospital for life threatening injuries.
“They were communicating through social media, and it looked like they were trying to meet up at a location to have a fight,” Chief Jim McMillen said.
One vehicle with four people inside were waiting while two other vehicles arrived with about five other people inside, Mcmillen said. Shots were then fired from both vehicles.
“We had a couple different rifles that were used in this, a few pistols as well,” McMillen said. Court documents obtained by KVFS said an AK-47-style rifle was used to fire multiple rounds at a Chevy Malibu.
Police were quickly called to respond to sounds of gunfire. The park is near a golf course, where many people were still out.
“Vehicles leaving, they got those vehicles stopped, addressed the people inside, there were some that were injured and struck by gunfire,” McMillen said. “It’s unusual to have a type of incident like this in this location, so obviously people were very concerned,” he added. Police say guns have been taken for evidence.
According to screenshots, Watkins posted a profile picture of him and a female on Facebook, under which there is a laugh-react emoji.
“What’s funny,” Watkins wrote, followed by three other messages. “You always on some funny s—,” he continued, before saying “I’m ready tho” with an emoji of a thumbs up and a target.
“Of the two kids shot yesterday, one was from Chaffee [Missouri]. Isiah and his brother Malachi would spend a lot of time with my son when they were younger. My son was like a dad to them,” one Facebook user wrote.
“All of this over a laughing emoji on Facebook. Heidi Best Chase Best and myself have always had an open door to kids who need someone and this just hurts so bad. He was a good boy.
“The girl is in critical condition and set to have surgery today.”
The men are held without bond with a hearing set for May 8.