UPDATES: Weapon used in fatal mall shooting shown in court - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

UPDATES: Weapon used in fatal mall shooting shown in court

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Ricky Neal Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail) Ricky Neal Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The second day of testimony in the trial for accused mall shooter Ricky Neal Jr. began on Thursday. Neal is accused of shooting and killing Christopher Mass in the parking lot of the Broadway Square Mall in February 2014. KLTV has a reporter in the courtroom and will be updating this story throughout the day.

4:30 p.m.:
  • Neal had gun for 2-3 weeks.
  • Bought from Academy
  • Neal says mass and Dews walked up on him and his car

"I don't know what this dude is going to the car for"

"I shot at that dude first"

"I didn't know what was what"

"I'm going to go down fighting"

"I didn't know what y'all gonna do. My back was against a wall. It was two dudes"

When asked if Neal saw if Mass had a weapon, he said he did not see one.

3:30 p.m.: State showed black bag containing paycheck of Ricky Neal Found in blue car. Thad Davidson asks if the bushes, trashcans, roof, gutters were searched. Investigator on stand did not know.

Investigator said he searched Neal's car, did not find shoes. Davidson asks why perimeter was expanded multiple times. Investigator said it could be because they found objects beyond it or to expand it for crowd control.

Found gun in backseat of the blue Ford Fiesta.

Davidson implied it had been handled by someone else since there was no bullet in chamber when it was found by police. Investigator said 10 rounds were found in the 14-round mag with none in chamber.

That implied magazine was released, then replaced before the investigator was able to see the gun.

TPD Crimes Against Persons Unit Officer Craig Shine now on stand.

2:51 p.m.: After lunch, Edgecomb took the stand again to continue talking about the wounds discovered during he autopsy.

Edgecomb says Mass didn't die instantly but instead aspirated his own blood. She says two of Mass' gunshot wounds did not exit his body. Edgecomb says she cannot determine from the wounds how far away Mass and Neal were standing. Bullets that were removed from Mass' body were presented as evidence and shown to the jury.

Tyler Police Investigator Donald Malstrom is called to the stand.

Malstrom brings with him graphic photographs from the scene. Judge Russell advises Mass' family that they may want to excuse themselves from the courtroom if they do not want to see these photos.

The first photograph shows Neal and Mass' vehicles parked right next to each other at the mall. The car doors are all open and the vehicles had already been searched by police. Other close-up photos of the crime seen are shown to the jury. Malstrom testifies that no weapons were found during the search of Mass' vehicle.

The State asks Malstrom to unseal the envelope containing the murder weapon. The prosecutor holds up the gun for the jury to see. Then, he puts bullets in his hands and shows those to the jury. Malstrom testifies that this caliber gun is intended to cause serious bodily injury.

The State shows more photos from the crime scene. These photos show Mass' body laying in the parking lot next to his own vehicle.



11:49 a.m.:

State calls their next witness, Jonathan Fontenot. Fontenot was working mall security the day of the shooting. He says his responsibilities consists of walking around the inside of the mall and driving around the outside of the mall.

Fontenot says, the morning of the shooting, he got a call about a possible fight in front of Champs. Fontenot says, when he got to Champs he didn't see any signs of aggression or fighting, but he was told the fight was outside.

Fontenot says he heard three shots and saw a man running toward the main entrance of the mall and another man laying on the ground.

Fontenot testifies that he saw Ricky Neal standing calmly in the parking lot. He says Neal did not seem agitated but was on his phone and appeared to be calling for help.

Fontenot says Mass had been shot in the left cheek and upper rib cage. Fontenot testifies that Mass was gagging on his blood and shaking while trying to grab at the air and speak. Fontenot, who is a veteran, says he attempted to clear Mass' airway using skills her learned in military combat aid.

Fontenot says he did not stop to assess anything about the situation. He says he ran straight to the victim and trying to help the victim was his one concern. Fontenot says while he was on the ground trying to help the victim, two other civilians with medical experience approached the body and tried to help. Fontenot says one of the civilians said they needed a defibrillator. Fonetenot says he ran to his car and got a defibrillator and came back. He says, together the men tried to help the victim, Mass.

Before the next witness is called, the Judge warns Mass' friends and family that they may want to consider leaving the courtroom because the next testimony will be graphic.

The State calls Dr. Allison Edgecomb, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Christopher Mass. Edgecomb is currently working in Ontario, Canada but was previously performing autopsies out of the Dallas Medical Examiner's office.

10:24 a.m.:

Thad Davidson, Neal's attorney, asks Norris a series of quick questions about the incident. Norris says she didn't see Neal waving a gun around, she didn't hear him saying he was going to kill anybody or anybody was going to kill him. Norris testifies that she was terrified and didn't know who shot who until the police arrived and told her.

Davidson passes the witness.

Norris says she knew Neal carried a gun "because of a little incident." She says he hadn't had the gun that long. Norris testifies that, in the past, she had seen Neal put his gun in the same black bag that he had in the backseat of the car when they went to the mall.

Norris testifies that she didn't see anyone charging Neal and didn't see anyone threatening him with his life.

"You don't know what happened out there do you?" asks Davidson, Neal's attorney. "No," replies Norris.

The State calls their next witness, Dr. Jeffrey Hunter. Hunter says he is a pediatric optomologist. Hunter says he was auto shop near the the morning of the shooting and heard about what was going on. Hunter says he saw the scene and saw Mass laying on the ground, so he ran over there to see if he could help. Hunter says Mass did not appear to be responsive or breathing. Hunter says he rolled Mass on his back and saw a lot of blood coming from his mouth. Hunter says he checked for Mass' pulse but didn't find one. Hunter says he started doing chest compressions. As Hunter did the chest compressions he says he realized that there was too much blood in his airway for chest compressions to be effective. Hunter says he stuck his thumb in Mass's throat to clear the airway and felt a piece of metal that he thought was a bullet.

Hunter says he lifted Mass's shirt and saw what appeared to a gunshot wound near Mass's heart. Hunter says Mass had no pulse, was not responsive and his pupils were dilated and fixed, indicating that Mass was dead. Hunter says, clinically, he felt like there was nothing he could do.

9:56 a.m.:

Thursday morning, a woman named Tamara Norris took the stand. She says she has been dating Ricky Neal for more then 4 years and he was living with her at the time of the shooting. She says, the morning of the shooting Neal had valentines day cards in his car for his kids, a hat for his grandpa and a black bag in his car.

Norris says Neal was planning on going to a funeral that day, but first the two of them went to the Broadway Square Mall where he was buying Jordans for himself and Norris.

Norris says Neal went into the mall alone and came out a little while later and said to her, "These n***** be trippin'," referring to Christopher Mass and Jonathan Dews. Norris says Neal gave her the debit card and told her to go inside and buy the shoes. Norris testifies that she quickly started to gather her things and saw about 3 men coming out of the mall toward Neal. Norris says she heard the men start arguing, but she wasn't listening to what they were saying. She says she was just trying to get in the mall to buy the shoes.

The State asks Norris if she could tell there was about to be a fight, and Norris says she didn't know what was happening. Norris says she went directly toward the mall and did not stop to observe the situation because "it was none of my business."

Norris says she saw Mass take his hoodie off and throw it in his car.

The State plays an audio interview between Norris and Tyler Police. Norris says in the recording that as she walked into the mall she heard Neal yelling at the men, "So this is what y'all wanna do? This is what y'all wanna do?"

Then, Norris testifies she heard the racking of a gun and took off running into JC Penny. She says shortly after she got into the mall she heard gun shots. Norris testifies that she never saw anyone with a gun and doesn't know who fired the shots. The State asks Norris about an interview with TPD in which she stated she thought Ricky had fired the gun. Norris says she thought Ricky fired the gun because people told her it was Ricky.

Norris testifies that she ran toward Champs and found a security guard and told the guard that there was a shooting outside. Norris says the guard just started at her like she was stupid and didn't do anything for a what seemed like a few minutes. Norris is visibly frustrated as she recalls what she describes as "too slow" of a reaction from the mall security guard.

Norris says she called her manager to say she wasn't going to be at work and then called Neal's mother.

She says as walked back to the parking lot and saw someone laying on the ground.

"I saw a body laying next to the green car and I saw the blood on his shirt and he wasn't moving. It seemed like he was gasping for air," recalls Norris.

Then she says she saw someone who she thought was a paramedic pull up and start doing CPR on Mass.

The State passes the witness.

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