INDIANAPOLIS – A gun deal arranged on social media led to the death of an Indianapolis teen and a three-month investigation to catch the people accused of killing him.
On April 10, 16-year-old Michael Duerson was shot in the 5600 block of East 30th Street. He’d been hit on the right side, with a bullet hitting his right lung and exiting through his back. He died after being taken to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition.
His death was ruled a homicide.
Months later, on Tuesday, July 19, Indianapolis Metropolitan police announced the arrests of 18-year-old Jayden Jennings and 19-year-old Keith Miller on preliminary murder charges.
According to court documents filed this week in Marion County, Duerson arranged to sell a Glock handgun to Jennings and Miller via Instagram. The deal involved $750 and the trade of another handgun in exchange for the Glock.
In May, detectives received Instagram records of the exchanges between Duerson and Jennings, though they didn’t know the identity of the individual Duerson was corresponding with at the time.
Records showed they planned to make the deal in the early morning hours of April 10. However, as time passed, Duerson said it was “too late,” and the parties agreed to meet up at night. Duerson received updates about the arrival of the second party; the individual he was talking to said he was with another person he referred to as “White Boy” and added that they were in a gray Acura.
The two eventually had a brief video chat around 9:50 p.m.
Additional records from Instagram showed the person corresponding with Duerson was Jennings, according to court documents. The records also helped investigators find the Instagram account belonging to “White Boy,” who was later identified as Miller.
Detectives also discovered Miller drove a gray Acura—the same type of car described in Instagram conversations about the deal.
Police went to Miller’s Indianapolis home on June 8, where they found him lying on a couch with a Taurus PT111 handgun that matched the caliber of the gun that killed Duerson.
During an interview with police, Miller said he was with a friend on the night of April 10 and planned to meet with someone to smoke marijuana. Notably, Miller gave police the name of someone other than Jennings. In Miller’s account of the encounter, he parked the Acura in a parking lot on East 30th Street when Duerson approached them.
Miller said Duerson showed them a Glock and the person in the car with him commented that it was a “nice Glock” and tried to grab the gun from Duerson. Duerson pulled the gun away and backed up; Miller said that’s when his friend fired his gun and told Miller to “go, go, go,” and drive away from the scene.
Miller even identified the other individual in a photo lineup. Acording to court documents, he intentionally named the wrong person to cover for Jennings. Miller also said the Taurus handgun he’d been found with had been given to him by the other individual “a couple days ago.”
A search of Miller’s phone showed photos and videos from May in which he had the gun; detectives said the images directly contradicted Miller’s assertion that he’d only had it for a few days. After all, police didn’t talk to Miller until June 8.
On June 14, the crime lab confirmed that the handgun Miller had in his possession had fired the shots that killed Duerson.
Furthermore, investigators uncovered records showing the second individual Miller named hadn’t been at the scene at the time of Duerson’s shooting.
Police discovered another person sometimes used the same Instagram account as Jennings. Police spoke to that individual, who told them that Miller and Jennings came to his house one night and seemed “anxious and nervous.”
The acquaintance couldn’t pin down the exact date but believed it happened in April. Miller had the Taurus handgun with him, according to court documents, and the acquaintance provided him with ammunition after Miller asked for some.
When asked what he knew about the murder, the acquaintance told police, “They did it.” He also revealed they’d arranged to a gun deal on social media and shot the seller. After it happened, Miller called the acquaintance and said, “They had to shoot him,” according to court documents.
According to the acquaintance, the pair didn’t say much about what happened, telling him only that they were buying a gun from someone else, Jennings tried to grab it and they shot the seller as he backed away. While neither said who was responsible for the shooting, the acquaintance said Miller was the only one who had a gun with him that night.
On July 19, detectives with the Violent Crimes Unit located Jennings. During an interview, he initially denied being involved in the shooting and said his sister could vouch for him. He told police Miller set up the gun deal and was with a different individual that night.
The individual Jennings named, according to court documents, was the same person Miller identified out of a photo lineup and tried to pin the murder on.
When informed that police had talked to other people who said he was at the scene, Jennings admitted he and Miller were together on the night of April 10 and told police Miller shot Duerson. Jennings said he texted Duerson on the night of the shooting that he was with his “White Boy,” referring to Miller.
Jennings said Duerson first showed the gun to Miller, who was driving. Then Duerson came around to the passenger side so Jennings could get a better look at the gun. Jennings first told investigators he’d “pushed the gun away” from Duerson. He later admitted he’d tried to “snatch” the gun away from Duerson, which he described as an “in the moment decision.”
Miller shot Duerson as he backed away, Jennings told police.
When asked why he’d earlier said Miller was with another individual, Jennings said he simply named the same person Miller had named.
After the shooting, Jennings said he and Miller went to visit their acquaintance—the same person who told police they’d been involved in the deadly shooting of Duerson.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will make a final charging decision.