Custody battle believed to be cause of deadly Gilmer shooting

Cheyenne Green of Gilmer. Photo Source: Facebook.
Cheyenne Green of Gilmer. Photo Source: Facebook.
Jonathan Ray Shepherd. Photo Source: Upshur County Jail.
Jonathan Ray Shepherd. Photo Source: Upshur County Jail.

GILMER, TX (KLTV) - The victim in a shooting death during an East Texas football game has been identified, and the suspect will be charged with murder.

Gilmer Police tell us 29-year-old Cheyenne Green of Gilmer was killed Thursday night during the 8th grade football game between Gilmer and Gladewater. The Upshur County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that 32-year-old Jonathan Ray Shepherd will be charged with murder in her death.

Shepherd, who turned himself in at 11 p.m. on Thursday, is being held in the Upshur County Jail on a $1 million bond. He was arraigned on Friday morning. The sheriff's office says he is the only suspect in this incident.

Upshur County District Court records indicate that Cheyenne was found by Shepherd's wife last night as she lay in the parking lot. She and Shepherd have a child together, but are currently separated.

At halftime, Shepherd left his wife to go to the parking lot and hand over his 3-year-old son to Cheyenne. Witnesses say that an argument occurred between the victim, Cheyenne Green, and Shepherd regarding who had rights to the child.

After the argument, Shepherd called his wife and said, according to the witness, "he has done something bad, and he couldn't take it anymore, she is dead and he had killed her."  Shepherd asked his wife to go to the parking lot where she'd find the victim's car running and the three-year-old in the back seat. His wife took the little boy, saw Cheyenne lying in blood, and called 911.

"That was two adults that knew each other very well... had a child together. Based on the investigation so far, we believe that it is completely isolated to a disagreement... a feud between those two adults," says Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd.

Also according to court records, the shooter's best friend said he got a phone call confession from Shepherd. He said to him that he couldn't believe what he had done, was looking for a place to hide, and that he might injure or kill himself.

"The arrest occurred without incident... without struggle. No force was necessary. The investigation is on-going. There are a number of witnesses that Gilmer Police Department is attempting to take statements from," says Byrd.

Byrd says, because of the public nature of the crime, many cell phones and their photos have been confiscated as evidence.

"If [anyone] has any photographs... any evidence... handle those matters in a respectful way as not to bring anymore hardship to the family," Byrd asks.

Cheyenne Green's grandmother confirmed to police that Shepherd and Green were in a heated custody battle over their son, the records state. Her child is with a family member today.

Green was an employee at Gregg Industrial Insulators in Longview. She graduated in August 2007 with an associate of science degree from North Texas Community College.

Her body has been taken to the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Tyler for an autopsy, where the official cause of her death will be determined.

A judicial records search revealed that Shepherd had a protective order filed against him in 2002 and 2003 by a woman in Upshur County. Her child was also listed on the order. It is not known for what reason the order was requested by the woman.

The school district released the following statement regarding the incident:

I wanted to take a minute this morning to address the tragic incident that occurred on our campus last night.  I also want everyone to have factual information regarding the incident.

Near the end of the Gilmer /Gladewater 8th grade football game, a 29-year-old female was fatally shot in the parking lot near the new gym.  I want to reassure our parents, teachers, and our students that this incident had nothing to do with Gilmer High School, Gilmer's students, or Gilmer ISD employees. 

This unfortunate incident was a result of a domestic dispute between two adults.  I want everyone to know that safety is our number one priority.  I can assure you that if we thought our students or staff was in danger in any way, we would not have held school this morning. 

After verifying that the suspect was in custody and that our campus was in no danger, we chose to have school today as normal and the football game tonight will move ahead as planned.  Please join us in keeping the victim and the victim's family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. 

The varsity football game between Gilmer and Gladewater will take place as scheduled tonight.

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