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Menchville High shooting suspect told police he fired his weapon while being assaulted, court documents show

Demari Batten, 18, is accused of fatally shooting Justice Dunham, 17, in the parking lot outside Menchville High.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The suspect in a fatal Menchville High School shooting told police that he fired his weapon while being assaulted, court documents obtained by 13News Now show.

Demari Batten, 18, was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and firearm on school property. He is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Justice Dunham in the parking lot outside Menchville High.

RELATED: Warwick High student arrested after boy shot and killed at Menchville High

According to an affidavit by the Newport News Police Department, Batten was detained after witnesses identified him as having a firearm during a fight. That's when he told officers he was "jumped."

During an interview at police headquarters, Batten said he went to the basketball game at Menchville High with a friend who drove him there. At the game, the two met with a larger group of people.

Batten told investigators that he left the game early and walked to his friend's car after a feud broke out with another group at the game. He initially sat in the front passenger seat but decided to stand next to the vehicle, between the vehicle and the open door.

According to Batten, he saw four or five people that were a part of the group he was feuding with. Batten told investigators that he tried to get back into the car as the people approached him.

Batten said one of the people grabbed the passenger door and held it open, trying to assault him, while others were trying to get through the driver's door. He then grabbed a firearm that was on the floorboard and fired a round toward the person at the driver's side of the vehicle.

When asked, Batten told investigators that he didn't see anyone with weapons, and that he fired the gun to get the group away from him. Batten said he didn't know who he shot.

Batten described the firearm he used as a 9mm handgun with an extended magazine. He believed the magazine had a capacity to carry around 20 to 22 cartridges, and that it was fully loaded when he fired it.

The affidavit also revealed two additional charges requested against Batten:

  • Carrying a firearm with a magazine capable of carrying 20 or more rounds of ammunition in a public place
  • Knowingly possessing a firearm while upon school property

The full affidavit is available below:


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