Affidavit: Murder suspect was angry over stolen weed when he shot, killed Chapel Hill student

Murder suspect was angry over stolen weed when he shot, killed Chapel Hill student

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An arrest warrant for the Tyler man who was arrested for murder in connection with the April 2 shooting death of a Chapel Hill High School student revealed that the suspect was angry at Zane Collier over stolen marijuana and ambushed him outside of his home.

John Edward Sparks is still being held in the Smith County jail on a first-degree felony murder charge. His bond amount has been set at $1 million.

Collier, 17, was a Tyler resident, according to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the arrest warrant obtained by a Smith County Sheriff’s Office detective, the Smith County Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call about deadly conduct at a home in the 4800 block of Holiday Hills Road at about 3:16 a.m. on April 2.

The SCSO deputy who arrived at the scene first told the detective that he found a white male, who as later identified as Collier, lying next to the front driver’s side of a white SUV parked at the address on Holiday Hills Road. Collier had what appeared to be two gunshot wounds to his left bicep and neck area, the warrant stated.

17-year-old Zane Collier was shot and killed early Thursday morning
17-year-old Zane Collier was shot and killed early Thursday morning (Source: Julian Esparza)

Collier was unresponsive, and after UT Health Tyler EMS arrived at the scene a short time later, the took him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The SCSO deputy at the scene also noticed three spent shell casings on the ground near Collier and the SUV.

When the SCSO detective who obtained the arrest warrant got to the scene, he saw blood near the front driver’s side of the SUV, several spent 9 mm casings, a phone, and a set of keys. He also noticed a strong odor of marijuana, the warrant stated.

A man who lives near where the shooting incident occurred told authorities that he was outside working on his vehicle when he heard two shots and saw a tan vehicle leaving the area at a high rate of speed.

Later, the SCSO detective spoke to a friend of Collier’s who was at the scene when the shooing occurred. The 18-year-old man said that Collier picked him up around 11 p.m. on April 1 and they went to Collier’s house to “smoke marijuana and hang out,” the warrant stated. Collier’s sister and another male friend allegedly joined them in the SUV, and they watched movies on their phone and used narcotics for about three hours.

At some point, Collier’s sister decided to leave. The witness said at about 3 a.m. on April 2, he, Collier, and the other friend decided to call it a night.

The witness told the SCSO detective that Collier mentioned that he left his cigarettes and turned around to get them. According to the warrant, the witness said as he started to walk up the steps to the front door, he heard Collier yell his name and then heard two gunshots.

At that point, the witness allegedly went inside, told Collier’s sister and father what had happened, grabbed an AR-15 rifle, and came back outside. However, he forgot the magazine, the warrant stated.

The witness told the SCSO detective that he laid the rifle down on the porch and went to check on Collier, who was unresponsive.

Later, the SCSO detective spoke to Collier’s sister, who told him the same story about what had happened, the warrant stated. She also said that Collier went to Tyler earlier that day and “hit a lick” on a drug dealer named John.

The SCSO detective wrote in the warrant that he knew from his training and experience that the phrase “hit a lick” means to rob someone. Collier’s sister said that Collier and his friend came back with some marijuana and were bragging about how they took it from John by reaching into a window and grabbing a bag with it in it, the warrant stated.

When the SCSO detective spoke to the witness again, he allegedly admitted that he and Collier went to the Rose Country Mobile Home Park and robbed a man named John. The witness said the man, who was later identified as Sparks, cursed at Collier as he was walking away with the “weed,” the warrant stated.

Later, the SCSO detective had another detective take the witness to the mobile home park and point out the house where he and Collier robbed the man, the warrant stated. The witness allegedly told the SCO detective that he spotted John at the same window they stole the marijuana from and that he was wearing the same white hoodie he was wearing when they robbed him.

Based on that information, the SCSO narcotics unit got a warrant to search the home at the Rose Country Mobile Home Park. They found Sparks, and according to the warrant, he and his brother tried to flush drugs down the toilet.

During an interview with the SCSO detective, Sparks said he went to the neighborhood where he thought Collier lived and spotted Collier and three other people “having a good time” as the smoked his marijuana, the warrant stated.

He allegedly told the detective that he parked his vehicle and waited for two hours for a chance to catch Collier alone.

“John Sparks stated he was very angry about them stealing the weed and waited by a tree in the yard near the vehicle,” the warrant stated.

When the witness approached the house, Sparks allegedly approached Collier and pointed a 9 mm handgun at him. Sparks told the SCSO that he fired a round at Collier’s friend, the warrant stated.

Later, Sparks allegedly admitted to firing several rounds at Collier. He told the deputy that, at first, he thought he hadn’t hit Collier, but the teen grab for his chest, the warrant stated.

Sparks said he saw Collier fall to the ground near the SUV, and then he ran to his parked vehicle, the warrant stated.

According to the warrant, the SCSO narcotics unit found the 9mm handgun in a closet at Sparks’ home. The narcotics deputies also allegedly found the white hoodie Sparks was supposedly wearing at the time of the shooting incident in the trunk of his car.

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