(Reuters) - A 12-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the shooting death of an Omaha, Nebraska, man in what officials said on Wednesday appeared to be a trend of gangs using children to help carry out crimes.
The boy was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service Tuesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He is one of three youths suspected in the June 29 killing of a 31-year-old man in Omaha, nearly 400 miles away, Omaha police and the mayor’s office said.
The child was expected to be extradited back to Omaha this week, officials said.
Two teen suspects, ages 15 and 17, have been arrested on charges of first degree murder, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said in a news release. The 12-year-old child is the younger brother of the 17-year-old, the release said.
According to police, the three teens lured the victim, Jamymell Ray, and another man, to an Omaha park under the premise of a marijuana deal.
The boys had planned to rob the men and at some point gunfire rang out, police said. Ray was killed and the other man was wounded, they said.
The teens had gang ties but the victim did not, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said.
“We are very concerned about older gang members putting pressure on younger members to do their dirty work,” Schmaderer said in a statement. “They are barely at the age for intervention.”
There are 11 active gangs in Omaha, a city of about 445,000 people, and they have been blamed for three spikes in violent crime in 2015, Schmaderer said.
Though the two older teens have been charged as adults, the 12-year-old boy was to be charged as a juvenile under a Nebraska law that took effect this year, local media reported. The law prohibits charging a youth under the age of 14 in district or county court, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine told Nebraska Radio Network.
It was unclear how the youths intended to plead to the charges or whether the older boys would attempt to have their cases transferred to juvenile court.
It was also not yet known why the youngest boy was in Minneapolis when he was arrested.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Kim COghill