LYNN — It was supposed to be an armed robbery, but the three teenagers did not know that one of their intended victims had a weapon of his own. So when Amoy Blake pulled his gun, police say, his victim fired his .357 handgun first, leaving Blake mortally wounded in the hall of a Washington Street apartment building.
Now, the two surviving alleged robbers, Jahleel T. Sanders Williams, 17, and 15-year-old Kevin O. Sanchez, are facing charges that they murdered their friend, even though neither one fired a single shot.
The Essex district attorney’s office said state laws allows Sanchez and Sanders Williams to be charged with felony murder because Blake died in the April 16 shooting while the teenagers allegedly participated in another felony. They are both being tried as adults under a state law that requires anyone who is 14 or older and charged with murder to be tried as an adult.
“It’s not that Mr. Sanchez actually pulled the trigger, but that Mr. Sanchez participated in an armed robbery with at least a sawed-off shotgun and possibly one other weapon,” Assistant Essex District Attorney Kate MacDougall said at Sanchez’s arraignment Thursday in Lynn District Court.
The shooter, who is a licensed gun owner, has not been
charged with a crime, said Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett .
“It’s pretty traumatic,” said attorney Richard Chambers Jr., who represents the 24-year-old Lynn resident. “He exercised two rights. He exercised his right to carry, and he exercised his right to self defense.”
The shooter called the situation horrible.
“I don’t want to relive that night,” he said by phone. The Globe is withholding his name at the request of prosecutors who fear for his safety.
Sanchez was ordered held without bail after not-guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to charges of murder and attempt to commit a crime. He was arrested Wednesday in Lynn, said his defense attorney, Michael Osborne, who declined to comment further. Stephen Judge, another lawyer for Sanchez, did not return a call.
Sanchez told police he knew about Blake and Sanders Williams’ plan to rob someone they believed was a marijuana dealer, and he went with the older teens to his apartment building. But Sanchez said he stayed behind when his friends ambushed the intended victims, a police report said.
The shooter denies he is a drug dealer, his lawyer said.
Sanchez told police that a short time after his friends went inside with the victims, he heard shots and ran home. However, witnesses said that Sanchez helped scout out the apartment building and the alleged victim’s motor vehicle.
In court, MacDougall said that Sanchez is involved in gangs in Lynn. She said he has been threatening witnesses to the alleged robbery and shooting by posting the address of a witness on Facebook. She also said Sanchez has a juvenile record from the severe beating of a young man, but she provided no additional details.
Sanchez’s mother was in court, but she left without commenting.
Sanders Williams, who was arrested last week, is being held without bail at a state Department of Youth Services facility in Dorchester, said his defense attorney, Edward L. Hayden. He pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempt to commit a crime, Hayden said.
“It’s really unusual when the victim kills one of the robbers,” Hayden said. “They can make an argument that it is a legitimate charge. I’ll be making an argument that it’s not, that you cannot infer an intent to kill one of the robbers when it’s the victim who shoots.”
Sanders Williams told police that he was not armed, a report said.
The shooter told investigators he was approached just after midnight last Wednesday by a man, later identified as Blake, who put a shotgun to the back of his head and ordered him inside his apartment building, a police report said.
The alleged victim and a companion were allegedly held at gunpoint by Blake and another man, according to a statement given to police. Chambers said Blake and the other man, who was not identified in the report, were masked. The companion said the man holding him at gunpoint repeatedly said “give him what he had or they were going to kill both of them.”
Once inside the building, the alleged victim managed to pull a gun from his pocket and fire it three or four times at Blake, the report said. He also called 911, the report said, and remained at the scene.
Sarah M. Ventura-Firpo, who lives steps from where the shooting took place, said the alleged victim was out of breath on the phone and panicking after firing his weapon. “I cannot forget that,” she said.
Emi Martinez, who lives in the building, described the alleged victim as a nice guy.
“He would say hi,” she said. “If I had groceries, he would help me bring them up.”
Blake’s mother declined to comment Thursday.
Sanders Williams and Sanchez are due back in court May 19.Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.