INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The jury heard opening arguments and victim testimony on Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of opening fire at Independence Center in January 2012.
Eric D. Bratton, 25, faces first-degree aggravated assault, second-degree aggravated assault and two counts of armed criminal action for his suspected involvement in the January 14 shooting at Independence Center.
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According to court documents, the victims -- identified in court as Rochelle Moore and Dillion Yates -- told police that two men followed them into the Independence Center and made a comment about Moore's buttocks. Yates said he turned around and questioned the man about his comments and the man -- later identified as Bratton -- became confrontational and threatened him.
Moore said Bratton yelled, "You heard me white boy! You don`t mess with me!"
According to their statements, Bratton struck Yates in the back of the head and the two men began to fight. The other man accompanying Bratton pulled them apart. According to court documents, at that time Yates said he thought the fight was over. Yates said he and Moore walked away but Bratton followed them, saying he wanted to "finish this."
Yates said he watched Bratton pull out a black semi-automatic handgun from his waistband and then fired three shots at them inside the shopping center. In court, Moore described what happened.
"He pulled out his gun and then he held it sideways and then he shot three times," she said. "He fired three times."
Yates also took the stand and described the shooting to jurors.
"I seen the first bullet hit Rochelle in the foot," he said. "It kind of happened in slow motion. I guess the second one hit me in the thigh. I really didn’t know I was shot until I got into Forever 21. I ducked to grab Rochelle and the third one I felt the wind whiz by my face."
Police said numerous tips were received from the public to identify Bratton as the suspected shooter and that both the victims identified Bratton in a police lineup.
Bratton is being held on a $500,000 bond. If convicted, Bratton could face life in prison.