UPDATE (8/29/2023): Court documents reveal that 16-year-old Gabriel Hernandez is officially charged with murder for the shooting death of Terry Ross. Hernandez is charged as an adult, not a juvenile, court records detail.
INDIANAPOLIS — Court records reveal what led to a 16-year-old being arrested for murder in connection with a deadly shooting Wednesday morning.
The teen was preliminarily charged with murder after police said he shot and killed an 18-year-old man who he said was trying to steal his vehicle in the family’s driveway. IMPD has not identified the teen because he is a juvenile and has not been charged as an adult at this time.
According to court documents, officers responded to a person shot in the 7100 block of Pluto Drive around 6:20 a.m. and located a man outside a home suffering from gunshot wounds. The man who was killed was wearing a black mask over his head and was discovered lying face down in the yard by a neighbor two doors away from the shooting.
The victim was later identified as Terry Ross.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, none of it does,” said neighbor Sach Diaz.
Ross died just a few feet from Diaz’s front door.
Diaz and his family called 911 and tried to save the victim’s life.
Court records show the accused shooter never called the police. The victim likely layed in the grass outside the neighbor’s home for nearly a half hour before being discovered.
When police arrived they saw two bullet holes in the second-floor window two doors away and were concerned someone inside the home may have been hurt.
The court documents revealed that officers knocked on the door where the teen lived. Investigators said there was no immediate response before the teen suspect answered the door and acted as if he didn’t know what was happening.
When investigators talked to the teen suspect, he told them, “My mom got cameras, I checked. Dude got a ski mask, hoodie, checking every car in the neighborhood…” according to court documents.
After seeing a man in a mask breaking into his mother’s blue Dodge in the driveway, the suspect allegedly grabbed his mother’s gun and fired two shots out his window.
When surveillance cameras confirmed that account, police arrested the 16-year-old accused shooter for murder.
“The first thing these kids think is it’s okay to grab a weapon,” Diaz said. “No, it’s not man. It’s just senseless all the way around.”
The shooting suspect’s mother told police she was awoken by the Ring security camera showing someone was breaking into their cars in the driveway. She then notified her son because she was scared.
Investigators claimed the video showed Ross opening the driver’s door of a blue Charger in the driveway and going through the compartment contents. Ross then looked up, turned, and walked away from the camera view in the direction where he was later located, court documents said.
“Should he have called the police? Yeah, that would have been a good idea,” said attorney John Tompkins. “But he’s 16 and probably scared. If this situation hadn’t come to him, he wouldn’t be in it.”
Attorney Tompkins isn’t connected to the case but said people are given more freedom to defend their home or property with lethal force than they would if they were in public.
“If you’re in your home, you don’t have to sit around and wait and see how dangerous the intruder is, and your home includes your curtilage,” the attorney said. “You don’t have to make sure he has a gun or say he’s going to kill you. If you were in public, you would need something like that.”
Police believe surveillance videos from other neighbors show the shooting victim attempting to break into multiple cars in the neighborhood.
Court records claim the homicide victim did not try to enter any homes and did not appear to be armed.
Police claim they found ammunition and shell casings in the 16-year-old’s bedroom. The 9mm gun was wrapped in clothing inside a storage container in the mother’s bedroom.
Police also found two phones next to Ross.
Court documents revealed that the teen and the mother declined to make any statements after they were detained for questioning.
The suspect is being held without bond pending the filing of formal charges. Due to the arrestee being 16 years old, if murder charges are filed it would be sent directly to adult court.