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Cheektowaga Police Make Arrest in Town Park Homicide

8:32 AM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
  • Ira Watkins, 19, was killed in Cheektowaga Town Park.
    
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CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - Cheektowaga Police have arrested a teenager for a fatal shooting in the Town Park last year.

Dontre Jones, 18, of Alexander Ave in Cheektowaga was arrested Wednesday by the Cheektowaga Police for the May 31, 2011 murder of Ira Watkins at Cheektowaga Town Park.

Jones was indicted by an Erie County Grand Jury for murder in the second degree.

Police say two gangs showed up to the park for a water balloon fight that was advertised on Facebook and Watkins wasn't in either of the gangs and was actually trying to break up the fight.

Watkins was a former high school athlete and was working and attending ECC at the time of his murder. Police called him a really good kid. "It's a terrible tragedy. There's no question about it. But when you have this type of gang violence we see it all the time where innocent parties get hurt, injured, and in this case killed," said Cheektowaga Chief of Police David Zack.

Shortly after the murder, police say they were making progress in the investigation. Some of the crime was even caught on camera. So some wonder, why did it take nearly nine months to make an arrest?

"You're talking about an area where there were well over a hundred people in the park in close proximity to the event that took place. So there's identifying witnesses, locating witnesses, tracking people down, getting people who don't want to talk to you to talk to you," said Chief Zack.

Police say they had 21 dectectives working the case but they didn't want to rush an arrest. They say family members were relieved and pleased when they heard the news.

Police stepped up security at the park after the shooting.  They want to ensure residents the Town Park is safe for them to enjoy.  

Jones is scheduled to be arraigned in Erie County Court on Thursday. 

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