Tyler man arrested for murder in connection with shooting death of Chapel Hill HS senior

Tyler man arrested for murder in connection with shooting death of Chapel Hill HS senior
John Sparks Jr., 18, being held on $1,000,000 bond. (Source: Smith County Jail)

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler man has been arrested on a first-degree murder charge in connection to the shooting death of a 17-year-old Chapel Hill High School student. The shooting incident occurred early Thursday morning.

According to Smith County Jail records, John Edwards Sparks Jr., 18, is being held on a first-degree murder charge. His bond amount has been set at $1 million.

Chapel Hill ISD identified the student as Zane Collier, 17. Collier was a Tyler resident, according to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the sheriff’s officials, Collier was found lying in a driveway on Holiday Hills Road with two gunshot wounds after a female called 911 and said someone had been shot in her driveway. A Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputy performed CPR on Collier until EMS personnel arrived at the scene.

Officials said he later died at a hospital. Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace James Meredith pronounced Collier dead at the hospital and ordered an autopsy. Collier’s body was transported to Forensic Medical in Tyler.

Smith County Sheriff’s Office investigators and the SCSO Crime Scene Unit arrived on the scene to investigate and gather evidence. Witnesses and potential suspects were contacted and questioned, according to a press release.

We spoke with a friend of Collier’s following the shooting. Jason Wheat told us he heard the shots as he was leaving the house where the shooting took place.

“When I was getting into my vehicle, I heard gunshots, and I panicked, so I drove off,” Wheat said. “It sounded like the AR. My gut feeling says it’s probably accidental.”

Evidence at the scene led investigators to a home in the 3400 block of NNE Loop 323 in Tyler. At that point, SCSO investigators obtained a search warrant from Judge Jack Skein, the 241st state district judge.

“Investigators responded to this residence and executed the search warrant with the assistance of Smith County Sheriff’s Office SWAT,” the press release stated. “During the search of the residence, evidence connecting an individual to the murder was obtained and a suspect was interviewed about his involvement in this case. During this interview, John Edward Sparks - 18, made admissions to the murder of Zane Collier.”

We will have the latest developments here and streaming live from our newsroom on East Texas Now.

Related Stories:

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.