Argument led to Lexington teen's shooting

Slain teen, friends stopped to buy soda

shopkins@herald-leader.comSeptember 15, 2009 

Michael Hanley was hanging out with friends early Sunday, looking for something to do when he and his cousin stopped at a Lexington Shell gas station for soda.

Devin Clayton, 17, said she and another girl waited in the back seat of the car while Hanley, 19, and his cousin went inside the store at North Broadway and New Circle Road.

Hanley was arguing with an unknown man as they left the Shell store, Devin said.

Devin could not hear what the men were saying. She later spoke to Hanley's cousin, who said he heard Hanley tell the man to "mind his own damn business."

The two men started fighting, Devin said. The man tried to punch Hanley but missed. Devin said Hanley then hit the man and bear-hugged him. Devin said the gunshot sounded like a "little pop."

"He stumbled back and then just ran all around," she said.

Hanley eventually went into the store and passed out on the floor between two shelves, Devin said. She placed a bag of chips under Hanley's head and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Hanley was shot about 3:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Medical Center at 4:08 a.m. The cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound, according to the Fayette County coroner's office.

"I just now kind of stopped crying," Devin said.

Police continued to search Monday evening for a greenish-blue car, possibly a four-door, and a man wanted for questioning, Lexington police Lt. Doug Pape said. The man was described as black with a medium complexion and a mustache. He is possibly in his early 20s, about 5, feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 160 to 180 pounds.

Michael Hanley's mother, Tammy, struggled to make sense of her son's death Monday afternoon as relatives buzzed in and out of her home near The Red Mile.

A black pickup on narrow Bennett Avenue off Versailles Road had "RIP Michael Hanley" written on a window. The truck passed a parked red Cadillac with the same statement scrawled across the back window in white paint.

Tammy Hanley stood on the front porch, holding pictures of her son as she spoke with a reporter. She wants justice for her son.

Tammy Hanley wrestled with immediate matters Monday, such as making funeral arrangements and figuring out how to pay for burial.

"We just want him buried, but we don't have the money," said Tammy Hanley, who receives Social Security. "And I want justice for my son. I just feel like his life was cut short."

Michael Hanley had dropped out of high school because of anxiety, his mother said. But he planned to take the GED and eventually play basketball in college. Hanley played for an AAU team in Lexington, his mother said.

Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Main Street is handling arrangements, which were incomplete Monday.

A small makeshift memorial, including Ale-8-One bottles and burning candles, rested against a tree at the Shell station Monday afternoon.

Josh Tolson, 21, who said he had been a friend of Hanley for more than a decade, stopped by to place a basketball at the memorial. He recalled Hanley's willingness to help his friends, whether it was with money or conflicts with others.

"Any time I ever called him, he was there for me," Tolson said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at (859) 231-1443 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1443.

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