Family members of Rodney Arnold, the 17-year-old arrested and charged with attempted murder after police said he shot a fellow teen Monday, claims that he had been harassed for months prior to yesterday's shooting at the Long Island Rail Road bus depot.
“My son’s been terrorized for months,” Lakeisha Williams, Arnold’s mother, told reporters outside the Long Beach City Court after her son’s arraignment was postponed Tuesday morning. As she walked away from reporters, declining to talk, Williams would only say: “I don’t condone what happened at all. My heart goes out to the family of the victim. But it is what it is and we just want to move on and heal.”
Just past 10 a.m. Tuesday, Arnold, handcuffed and wearing a t-shirt and jeans, appeared before Judge Roy Tepper, who postponed his arraignment until 2 p.m. to allow him to retain a court-appointed attorney.
Tepper stated that Arnold signed a written admission statement that he pointed a loaded revolver and shot a teen, who suffered a bullet wound to the chest but survived.
According to police, the incident occurred at the bus depot, located across the street from the Long Beach Police Department headquarters, at about 3:40 p.m. Monday.
While an investigation is ongoing, police said three teens approached Arnold, they exchanged heated words and an altercation followed, at which point Arnold pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and fired shots, striking one of the teens, a 17-year-old sophomore at Long Beach High School.
Hearing the shots from headquarters, police immediately ran outside to the bus depot, where they apprehended Arnold. Arnold was charged with attempted murder. The weapon has not been recovered.
The three other suspects fled but police stopped them at Riverside Boulevard and East Market Street. The wounded teen was transported by the Long Beach Fire Department to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, and his bullet wound is deemed non-life-threatening.
Police Commissioner Michael Tangney told the Long Beach Herald that the three suspects, who have remained unidentified, are in custody but have not been charged with a crime. Tangney said it was unclear if Arnold was assaulted before he fired his gun, and noted that the shooting may have been related to a recent dispute that occurred outside of Long Beach, but whether it is gang-related is also unclear. Said Tangney:
"There’s been an ongoing dispute over a few weeks over a perceived lack of loyalty.”
Outside the courtroom, Eugene Robinson, who identified himself as Arnold’s uncle, told reporters that the suspects had tried to have his nephew "jumped."
“They’ve been trying to mess with him for the pass couple of weeks now,” Robinson added.
All four suspects live in Long Beach and attended Long Beach High School, where all who entered the school Tuesday morning were subject to security bag checks as a precautionary measure. Superintendent David Weiss told Newsday [paid link] that the security check “went smoothly.”
"We wanted to make sure there was no spillover ... Students were very cooperative and responsive."