KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Howard Chase IV, 19, charged with shooting and killing a six-year-old girl, appeared in court Thursday morning. Also charged in the death of six-year-old Angel Hooper is LeAndre Smith, 21, who was already in jail for an unrelated offense. He was scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced charges against the men on Wednesday.
Chase and Smith are both charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action. Peters Baker asked they be held without bond.
Hooper was fatally shot at about 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 17 as she exited a 7-Eleven convenience store located at 10615 Blue Ridge Boulevard in south Kansas City. Her mom said she had gone inside the store with her dad to buy some bubble gum. Police said from the beginning of the investigation that a person or people in a passing car fired multiple rounds toward the store parking lot, striking Hooper.
"That bullet was not meant for this six-year-old, Angel Hooper, but she remains one of Kansas City’s most tragic homicide victims,” Peters Baker said during a news conference.
Police also announced that three men arrested Tuesday night were also suspected of having a role in the shooting. The three men were arrested following a brief foot chase in the area of 67th and Bellefontaine. So far the prosecutor's office has only announced charges against Chase and Smith, it's unknown if charges will be filed against anyone else.
Evidence that led to their arrest
Court documents describe that during the investigation police reviewed surveillance video and found that shots were filed from a vehicle they later determined to be a 2004 white Pontiac Grand Prix. On October 23 police found and interviewed the owner of the vehicle, who said that Smith was her boyfriend and frequently drove the car.
She recalled the day of the shooting, October 17, saying that after attending a family friend's function with him in the afternoon, they went to an apartment complex at 76th and Monroe where she exited the car and Chase got in the front seat. Smith and Chase drove away and were gone between 30-45 minutes according to Smith's girlfriend.
Another witness said that at about 6:15 p.m. on October 17 that Chase was present during a fight between two black women at a park near 72nd and Indiana. The witness recorded the fight on her cell phone that revealed Chase holding an AK-47 that was brown and looked like it had been shortened according to a probable cause statement.
At about 8 p.m. on October 17 police located a reportedly stolen black Mazda Millenia at I-435 and 87th Street riddled with bullet holes. When police went to find the owner of the car, two people were taken into custody and told police they had been shot while inside the car when they were pulling into the parking lot at the 7-Eleven where Hooper was shot.
Smith was arrested on October 28 during a car check and told police that he and Chase had driven around together on October 17, and said he had heard about Hooper's death, but denied any knowledge past that.
Then on October 30 another witness contacted police who said Chase had called him and described getting into a shootout at the 7-Eleven the night of Hooper's death. He said Chase asked him for advice and also told him that the guns used in the shootout were, "gone, melted."
When Chase was arrested on Tuesday he did admit to police that he was at the fight in the park, which he described as being between his cousin and another woman, but denied involvement in the homicide. He said he had gone back to the apartment complex afterwards, but court records describe that police analyzed cell phone records which put him in the area of 107th and Blue Ridge at the time, the location of the 7-Eleven where Hooper was shot.
“The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department has worked tirelessly to track down all leads in this case, and to bring me a case. And they, the individuals responsible for this very tragic and very senseless death of Angel Hooper, are going to be held accountable,” said Peters Baker.