Man arrested in March shooting at Lawrence apartment, linked to other robberies
photo by: Sara Shepherd
A man was arrested and charged this week in connection with a shooting that happened in March at an apartment on Graystone Drive. He’s also among four arrestees now linked to earlier armed robberies in town.
Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies took Rodney L. McNeal, 22, of Kansas City, Kan., into custody Monday at the Wyandotte County jail, according to local jail records. He made his first appearance in Douglas County District Court, via video from the jail, Tuesday afternoon.
The shooting was reported just before 12:20 p.m. March 8 inside an apartment in the 400 block of Graystone Drive, the Country Club on 6th apartment complex.
A 19-year-old victim had come home and interrupted a midday burglary at his apartment, police said at that time. The victim suffered a single gunshot wound and was taken to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.
McNeal is charged with aggravated battery for allegedly causing great bodily harm to a man; aggravated burglary for allegedly unlawfully entering the home on Graystone Drive where that man and another person were present; and theft for allegedly stealing a gun from the man, as well, according to the complaint. All are felony charges.
McNeal implored Judge James George to give him an own-recognizance bond so he could bail out of jail without paying.
“Not only do I apologize to the person I hurt, but also to my family and friends,” McNeal said, reading from a written statement.
McNeal described himself as “a normal young black male” who was trying to provide for his pregnant girlfriend and daughter due in “weeks.” He said he wanted to get out of jail so he could continue working at the job he had at JCPenney, and that this year, he’d dedicated himself to trying to be a better person and hanging out with a better crowd.
“If you give me a chance, I promise to prove to everyone I am not the man in the mugshot,” McNeal said.
Noting that McNeal’s charges include “serious felonies” and that he would likely go to prison if convicted, George left McNeal’s bond at $125,000, cash or surety.
About a week after the shooting, Lawrence police shared on Twitter a photo of a man they called a person of interest in the shooting. Based on McNeal’s appearance in court Tuesday, the photo appears to be of him.
photo by: Lawrence Police Department
According to police incident numbers in the complaint, McNeal is charged in connection with the Graystone Drive shooting, as well as two Feb. 20 back-to-back home-invasion robberies where, according to initial reports, one suspect wore a scary mask based on one from “The Purge” movie series.
The three other men charged in connection with the mask robberies all are facing multiple counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in the two incidents, one in the 2000 block of West Sixth Street and the other in the 3100 block of Ousdahl Road.
True J. Shipley, 20, of Covington, Ga., was arrested first and charged on April 30. Court records indicate Shipley posted $125,000 bond and was released in July. He had been scheduled to enter a plea in September, but that hearing was canceled, and his next hearing is now scheduled for Feb. 4.
Corey T. Allen, 30, of McDonough, Ga., and Justice L. Dent, 20, of Lawrence, were arrested in September. Both remain jailed on $125,000 bond, with next hearings on Oct. 16 and Nov. 6, respectively.
According to police incident numbers in their charges, Shipley and Dent also are linked to the Graystone Drive shooting.
It’s not clear exactly what prosecutors believe each man’s role was in the cluster of crimes. The Journal-World has requested police affidavits that would include details about why each man was arrested, but has not yet received an answer from the court as to whether they will be released.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has denied the Journal-World’s requests for all four men’s mugshots.