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First suspect charged in shooting that killed Jaylon McKenzie

Jaylen M. Staten, 20, was charged this week with several gun-related counts

Editor's note: The video above is from Sept. 1, 2020.

MADISON COUNTY, Ill. — Almost exactly two years after 14-year-old rising football star Jaylon McKenzie was shot and killed, a suspect has been charged in the case.

Jaylen M. Staten, 20, was charged this week with aggravated discharge of a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Charging documents filed by the Madison County State’s Attorney state Staten acted in a reckless manner by shooting a gun in the direction of others and didn’t have a concealed carry license. He was 18 years old at the time of the shooting.

The state’s attorney’s office said outside of these charges, the investigation is still ongoing. The office didn't provide any further details about Staten's case.

The charges stem from an incident that happened at about 11:40 p.m. on May 4, 2019.  Several students and teenagers were gathered at a post-prom house party in Venice, Illinois.

Jaylon’s mom said her 14-year-old son was there when a fight broke out. She said he walked outside to leave the party and avoid the fight when a stray bullet hit him. Jaylon died from his injuries.

Jaylon was in the eighth grade, and even though he wasn’t in high school yet, he had received national attention for his skills on the football field. Sports Illustrated featured him in an article titled, ‘Six teens who will rule the future in sports.’

Jayon's mom said his personality was like a magnet.

"He didn't say much, but he just drew people to him with his smile, with his personality,” Sukeena Gunner told 5 On Your Side in the days after the shooting.

"My baby had just such a promising future, and for his life to just end in just a senseless killing with someone else that had no regard for life. Just prayer -- prayer is all I can really ask for right now,” Gunner said.

Jaylon’s family said it wasn’t just his football skills that shined; he also wanted to make an impact on his community. That’s why they created the Jayon “6” McKenzie-Rising Star Foundation. It works to empower other kids to be motivated, determined and to never give up.

"In his honor, to keep his legacy alive, to keep his dream alive, to keep his voice heard, we are going to finish his dream," Gunner said. "I feel like it’s my job and my journey to continue what my baby started."

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