20-Year-Old Charged in ‘Senseless' Reston Killing of Former Classmate

“Words are insufficient to describe the deep concern and grief our family’s having about the unjust murder of our dear Sam,” the family of Samuel Onyeuka said

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A 20-year-old is accused of killing a former high school classmate in Reston, Virginia, and then fleeing hours south to Newport News. 

Jalenn Maurtiece Keene was arrested Friday in the shooting death of Samuel Onyeuka, who also was 20, Fairfax County police announced Sunday. 

The circumstances of the shooting Wednesday remain under investigation, but police said Keene and Onyeuka both attended South Lakes High School in Reston.

Onyeuka was a kind son, brother and nephew, his family said in a statement. 

“Words are insufficient to describe the deep concern and grief our family’s having about the unjust murder of our dear Sam,” the victim’s family said. The police department’s victim services director read the family’s statement at a news conference Sunday.

Using surveillance footage and financial records, police were able to track Keene and the silver Nissan Rogue he was driving to Newport News, about 180 miles south. For 96 hours, officers in Fairfax County and Newport News “gave everything they had to finding justice” for Onyeuka, Maj. Ed O’Carroll said at the news conference, calling the killing “senseless.”

Keene was charged with second-degree murder and gun charges. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney. 

Officers were called to the 2300 block of Branleigh Park Court, near homes and a shopping center, at about 2 p.m. Wednesday. Onyeuka, of Reston, was found with gunshot wounds to the upper body. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The suspected shooter was seen driving away in a silver Nissan Rogue. Detectives combed the area for evidence and began to track Keene’s path using financial records and surveillance footage. 

“It’s 2021 and a lot of our activity is caught on video,” O’Carroll said. 

Once Keene was identified as a suspect, Fairfax County and Newport News police coordinated, and Keene was taken into custody late Friday in Newport News, where he lives. He was found with a gun. Ballistics tests will be conducted to determine if the weapon was used in the crime. Keene will be extradited back to Fairfax County. 

Detectives determined Onyeuka had been walking on a sidewalk near his home when he was shot. He is the first person to be killed in Fairfax County in 2021. 

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact police. 

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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