Houston & Peach

Byron gang member, 17, faces murder charge after man dies 1 month after shooting, cops say

A Byron teenager is facing murder and gang-related charges after a man shot in April died from his wounds this week.

Jaqwelvyn Smith, 17, was taken into police custody shortly after the 9:41 p.m. shooting April 21 at the intersection of Poole and Hamlin streets in Byron after the victim identified him as the shooter, said Sgt. Melanie Bickford, who is over investigations for Byron police.

Smith was originally charged with aggravated assault. New warrants will likely be handed down by end of day Wednesday.

Brandon Merion, 33, of Byron was shot once in the abdomen and died at 10 a.m. Monday at Houston Medical Center, Bickford said.

Merion had been recovering at his sister’s home in Warner Robins after being released Medical Center, Navicent Health, several days after the shooting, Bickford said.

He was taken by ambulance Monday to Houston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

On the night of the shooting, a large block party was being held in the area known among residents as Toomersville, Bickford said.

“When we responded to the shooting victim, we found out that there had been two groups fighting in the roadway just prior to it,” Bickford said.

Smith was a known as member of Piru, a sect of the Bloods gang, while there was no evidence to suggest Merion was in any gang, Bickford said.

Byron has been experiencing a rise in gang activity in that area over the last two years, Bickford said.

Smith remains in the Peach County jail where he has been held since the shooting, Bickford said.

Anyone with any information about the case is encouraged to contact Byron police Investigator Steve Parrell at 478-956-2493. Tipsters may remain anonymous, Bickford said.

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