Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged a teenager with robbing a Kansas City zTrip driver who was shot 20 times.
Derron D. Nevels, 18, was charged in U.S. District Court in Kansas City with interfering in interstate commerce by robbery and using a firearm in a crime of violence.
The robbery and shooting occurred on Dec. 4 in the 900 block of Benton Boulevard.
U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison, who represents the Western District of Missouri, led a news conference Wednesday afternoon discussing the charges filed against Nevels.
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Garrison said the ride service driver, a 62-year-old woman, remains hospitalized in critical condition with injuries to her upper body.
During the news conference, Garrison also discussed four recent convictions involving felons in possession of firearms, and said a federal grand jury in Kansas City returned 15 indictments in the last two days against individuals for other violent or gun-related crimes.
“This behavior is barbaric and is not going to be tolerated. It has to stop,” Garrison said. “Everything in life has value, but as long as we have predators who view other members of our community as prey to be exploited, then we will pursue.”
The charges against Nevels detail how the investigation led to him:
Investigators obtained the telephone number of the person who had ordered a ride from the driver that night. They obtained a search warrant to get that phone’s call records, which led them to a second phone number.
That second phone was thought to be the one used by the shooting suspect and its call records were also obtained with a search warrant.
Surveillance video from the zTrip vehicle recorded the robbery after the driver arrived to the address on Benton.
The suspect can be seen wearing a mask and points a rifle at the driver’s head, telling her to give him “everything.”
When she tells him they are being recorded, he says, “ I don’t care. Give me everything.”
The driver then grabs the barrel of the rifle and she and the robber begin a struggle. A second suspect had approached the vehicle, and he begins to punch the driver on the face and head.
After the driver let go of the rifle, the robber chambered a round and fired multiple shots at her.
The two suspects ran away, but a few minutes later a man can be heard asking the driver if she is okay and if she has called police. He retrieves a cellphone from the rear seat and leaves.
The person who returned to get the phone is thought to have been the shooter.
As the investigation continued, police and FBI agents obtained a search warrant for the Facebook account of Nevels.
A photograph on the Facebook page showed Nevels holding a rifle that appeared to be the type of weapon that fires .22-caliber ammunition. Shell casings found at the shooting scene were .22-caliber.
On Dec. 10, officers spotted Nevels and two unknown people boarding a bus near Prospect Avenue and Swope Parkway.
When they got off the bus downtown, officers moved in and arrested them.
Investigators found a .22-caliber rifle concealed in Nevels’ pant leg. It appeared to be the same weapon seen in the zTrip video during the shooting.
During police questioning, Nevels gave a number of changing stories, including saying the shooter was a female and then saying it was a male he only knew by a nickname, according to court documents.
Nevels also said the gun used in the crime was his, but it had been used by someone else.
Nevels is on probation in another robbery case, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records. Jackson County prosecutors are seeking to revoke that probation.
He faces a potential life prison sentence on the federal charges filed Wednesday. Federal prosecutors are seeking to have Nevels held without bond while the case is pending.