Forensic tests could help Nicholasville police determine who shot a young father outside a popular Mexican restaurant Saturday.
Howard Jones, 19, of Lexington was in serious condition Monday at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital after being shot in the head outside Mi Pequeña Hacienda in Brannon Crossing shopping center, which is just south of the Fayette County line.
Police said Jones was one of a group of people leaving the restaurant about 2 a.m. A fight broke out and shots were fired from a moving car into the crowd, according to court records.
Mindy N. Wilkerson, 22, and Frederick A. Lester, 29, both of Lexington, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree wanton endangerment in the shooting. Lester also is charged with drug possession after marijuana was found in his pants pocket, according to a uniform citation.
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None of those charges reveals who fired the bullet that hit Jones, whose injury constitutes a first-degree assault charge under Kentucky law. It wasn't clear Monday whether Nicholasville police were searching for another shooter, or whether assault charges were pending against either Wilkerson or Lester.
"It could be a combination of any of those," Nicholasville police Sgt. Scott Harvey said.
There could have been a third person shooting, he said. Bullets from at least two — possibly three — guns were found at the scene. Investigators have sent the bullet that hit Jones to the Kentucky State Police lab in Frankfort for forensic testing.
"With multiple guns being fired, we have to determine what bullet actually struck him to place the charge," Harvey said.
Meanwhile, Wilkerson and Lester are being held at the Jessamine County jail on $25,000 bond each.
According to an arrest warrant, Wilkerson fired a gun "in the direction of several people that were outside Mi Pequeña Hacienda." Several of the rounds she fired hit a parked vehicle, the warrant said.
Lester "was in possession of a semi-automatic firearm and fired it off into a large crowd of people, potentially causing harm and placing people's lives in danger," a police report said.
The gun was confiscated when Lester was arrested about 6 a.m. Saturday, four hours after the shooting.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to return to court Nov. 7.
Jones' brother, Ronald Bledsoe, said the family thinks the person who shot Jones was targeting someone else, and that Jones was an innocent bystander.
"From what I heard, they was trying to shoot somebody else," Bledsoe said. "He was just right there and had a stray bullet hit him."
Bledsoe said his brother recently became a father and that he held two jobs to support his family. Jones didn't get into trouble, Bledsoe said. Records in Jessamine and Fayette counties show only traffic charges.
Jones was in the intensive care unit at UK hospital Monday afternoon after being upgraded from critical to serious condition.
Bledsoe said his brother was continuing to show signs of improvement. Jones was talking, moving, writing and breathing on his own, he said.
"He's doing real good," Bledsoe said. "We're relieved."