The names of Lexington’s three latest murder victims — all males killed by guns in six hours — were released Wednesday night as classmates and families grieved, police dug for answers, and the community absorbed the news.
Kevin Olmeda-Ortiz, a 15-year-old Lafayette student, was shot in the head Tuesday around 11 p.m.
Christopher Spencer, a 19-year-old, died less than an hour later on the porch of an apartment off Richmond Road.
Mikel Antonio Willis, 19, was found dead before dawn near a dumpster in downtown Lexington. Dozens mourned him in Facebook posts.
Between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 4 a.m. Wednesday, the city had recorded three unrelated fatal shootings.
A victim on a porch, and a police standoff
Spencer was found unresponsive on the front porch of a woman’s apartment on Squires Woods Way just before 10 p.m. Tuesday. He died of multiple gunshot wounds at the scene at 11:42 p.m., according to the Fayette County Coroner’s Office.
Morgan Taylor Johnson, 21, was arrested after several hours of negotiation with police and charged with murder, kidnapping, burglary and rape, according to Lexington police Sgt. Jervis Middleton and court records.
Johnson is accused of kidnapping a woman he knew and taking her to that Squires Woods Way home, where he sexually assaulted her, according to court records.
Johnson, Spencer and the woman knew one another, Middleton said. There was a suicidal subject reported at the same home a week ago, police said. Police did not say who that person was.
“I got shot!”
Shortly after Spencer was shot, Kevin Olmeda-Ortiz and another 15-year-old were shot about 10:15 p.m outside of a multiple-unit home on the 2100 block of Garden Springs Drive off Harrodsburg Road, according to police. Olmeda-Ortiz was shot in the head and died in the ambulance, police said. The other wounded juvenilewas taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital for surgery.
A 16-year-old was charged Wednesday with murder, first-degree assault and robbery in connection with the shooting, according to police. The suspect, whose name has not been released because of his age, is being held in the Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
The suspect was an acquaintance of Olmeda-Ortiz and the other 15-year-old who was injured, according to police.
Kevin died just a few houses west of the two-story duplex on Garden Springs Drive where he lived with his parents and siblings, said brother Joaquin Olmeda, 19.
“He was such a good soul,” Olmeda said. “He was always helping his friends, helping me and my dad out. He was like a modern-day hippie. He never hurt nobody and loved his tie-dyed T-shirts.”
Kevin’s friend, who was shot three times, burst into the unlocked Olmeda apartment on Tuesday night and shouted “I got shot!”
Olmeda found his brother lying outside near the road and in a residential driveway near Dogwood Drive, not far from Garden Springs Elementary School.
“He was bleeding from his head and his nose a lot,” Olmeda said. “He had a little heartbeat. The ambulance arrived and they put him in the ambulance, and then they got out and they said he was dead. He didn't get to the hospital.”
The other teen is in critical condition at a local hospital, Joaquin said.
Kevin is survived by his parents, Joaquin Sr. and Lorena, and his 8-month-old sister, Luna. The parents and the younger Joaquin all work in local restaurants.
When asked what sense he made of his brother’s death, Joaquin said the killing of his brother was “completely senseless. He was so young.”
Witnesses saw a vehicle leave the scene, but investigators have not released any information about a suspect. Police said a drug transaction led to the shooting.
The boys attended Lafayette High School. Grief counselors for students were available Wednesday, Fayette County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. More than 30 students met with the counselor, she said. Grief counseling teams were also sent to Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Beaumont Middle School, which each had connections to the 15-year-olds, according to Deffendall.
Lafayette principal Bryne Jacobs said, “our district is great and very supportive. They have assembled a crisis response team ... to meet with the kids and give them whatever support they need.”
The last shooting
At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, Willis was found shot behind a garbage dumpster at an apartment complex on East 6th Street off Shropshire Avenue, police said. Police had received a report of an unconscious man.
Willis died at 4:45 a.m. of multiple gunshot wounds, police said. Police are investigating it as a homicide, they said.
Police told LEX 18 they did not receive any calls about shots fired in the area.
There have been dozens of social media posts about Willis, including one from former University of Kentucky women’s basketball star Makayla Epps.
Willis had potential. He was a Bryan Station High School graduate, and had at various times expressed interest in accounting and auto mechanics.
Last year he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and was awaiting final sentencing next month.
Nevertheless, in a letter to Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone, Willis wrote: “I am determined not to allow my past to determine who I want to become.”
Mikel was placed into a special education class after receiving a diagnosis for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nevertheless, he made good grades, especially in math, and graduated. He wanted to attend Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
“I know I have gotten myself into a bad situation, but my time in jail has been (an) eye-opening experience for me,” Mikel wrote. “I can see the value in working hard and contributing to society. I do not want to be like some of the people I have met in here, career criminals and people who have grown accustomed to being removed from their loved ones.
“This is not the life I want to lead and I am working to do whatever is required of me to never have to come back to a place like this again,” he wrote.
Unrelated shootings, police say
The three shootings are not believed to be related, police said.
Police said the incidents on Squires Woods Way and Garden Springs Drive were not random, but they are still determining what led to the incident on East 6th Street.
With the three confirmed homicides, the city’s total this year climbs to at least five, with four since Sunday. Last year was a record-setting year with 28 homicides.
All of this week’s homicides involved people 21 years old or younger.
Sunday, 19-year-old Carl Garner Jr. was shot and killed. Police have not given any updates on the suspect, who remains at-large.
“The younger generation seems to be involved in different activity that leads to these events,” Middleton said.
Younger victims can be hard on law enforcement. “We still have to be police. If it’s a crime, we are going to police it the same way. We try to put our feelings aside and go about solving the crimes and try to get closure for the victims and their families and try to continue to make our community safe.”
Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at 859-253-2020.
Middleton was unsure when the last time a similar series of homicides occurred in the city.
“It’s certainly not the norm in Lexington. It can certainly be alarming for our citizens,” he said. “We do want them to know that we are working to keep them safe.”