A 12-year-old boy has been arrested for robbing a gas station and killing a female clerk in Fouke, Arkansas.
Christa Shockley, 21, was found unresponsive at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 2 in an EZ Mart 140 miles southwest of Little Rock, according to the Associated Press. Shockley's Facebook page reports that she was a child care assistant.
Authorities found a pistol and clothes worn by the gunmen, which led them to identify the shooter as a 12-year-old boy who attended Fouke School nearby, the AP reports. Police arrested the boy at school around 8 a.m. that morning. The suspect's identity cannot be released because he is a minor.
"About 7 a.m., personnel from the Fouke School District were contacted and given a brief summary of the investigation. At that time, no suspects had been identified. However, it appeared the victim had been specifically targeted," said Chief Deputy Michael McQuerrey to the Texarkana Gazette.
Town Mayor Terry Purvis expressed his shock at the news.
"Our feelings have run the gamut of grief, shock, dismay and disbelief," he said. "We're a small town, and we're all family and close-knit. It's like it happened to your own family."
He went on to praise the investigators for acting quickly and keeping the town safe.
"The investigators were the best of the best. They made an arrest in record time, and I'm appreciative of that," he said. "It's unnerving thinking a killer would be running among us. A quick arrest put the fear at ease. I can't thank the sheriff's department and the Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department enough."
Because of the killer's age, he is not eligible to stand trial as an adult, meaning that he does not face the possibility of a death sentence. However, under state law, the court can exert extended juvenile jurisdiction for cases involving capital murder, which means the suspect could stand to receive both juvenile and adult sentences. In such a case, he would be held until he turned 21, in which case the court would deliberate whether he should continue to serve time at an adult penitentiary.
According to the AP, the boy is currently being held at a juvenile detention center. He is reported to be somewhere on the autistic spectrum. His next hearing is set to occur Wednesday, Feb. 8.