A Maryland man was found guilty of fatally shooting a high school senior during a random encounter last year, the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Simeon Mbuyu Mukuna, an 18-year-old student at Richard Montgomery High School, was shot and killed Feb. 6, 2021, by Shawndel Weems, 23, of Columbia, authorities said.
Weems said he fired because he thought Mukuna was “looking at him with malice” during a chance encounter in a parking lot, prosecutors said.
A Howard County jury found Weems guilty Thursday of second-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, the state's attorney's office said. He faces up to 60 years in prison and is set to be sentenced in September.
“This loss of life was senseless and utterly unnecessary. We have an 18-year-old young man who had a bright future ahead of him and it was cut short over nothing,” State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said. “We thank the jury for this verdict and hope it brings the victim’s family some solace.”
According to police, Mukuna was helping a friend fix their car at an apartment complex on Monarch Mills Way on the day of the shooting.
Witnesses say Mukuna went to get a jacket out of his car. As he walked back across the parking lot, Weems pulled up beside him and fired nearly a dozen shots, killing the teen.
Charging documents say Weems told police he felt Mukuna, the victim, was going to try to harm him.
He also told police he had never seen Mukuna before.
According to police, investigators found a gun inside Weems' apartment and shell casings in his car.
Those who knew Mukuna say he excelled in the classroom and on the football and soccer fields. He had his sights set on college and a career in the arts.
“Simeon was a kid who lit up the room, gregarious, he had a magnetic infectious smile,” Principal Damon Monteleone said.
Monteleone says in life, Simeon possessed a transcendent ability to bring people together.