Social media squabble results in shooting

A “tweet” to another man’s girlfriend on the popular social media site Twitter resulted in gunfire Saturday morning, leaving a Tyler man dead and a Henderson man behind bars on felony homicide charges.

Tyler Police descended upon Broadway Square Mall at about 9:15 a.m. Saturday, where they found 23-year-old Chris Mass dead in the parking lot near J.C. Penney’s.

TPD Public Information Officer Don Martin said Ricky Neal Jr., 25, of Henderson, was arrested at the scene and charged in the shooting.

Along with the charge of first degree murder for the shooting death of Mass, Neal has also been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the attempted shooting of Jonathan Lamone Dews, 19, of Tyler.

Bond for Neal has been set as $750,000 for first degree murder and $500,000 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Martin said police discovered through the investigation that Neal had sent a tweet to one of the men’s girlfriend, and the two met in Champs Sports store in the mall Saturday, where Neal had gone to buy new shoes.

According to police reports, Neal allegedly went up to one of the individuals and said, “I heard you had a problem with me tweeting your girlfriend.”

Martin said the men began arguing and decided to take the confrontation outside.

“Neal returned to his vehicle and told his girlfriend to go in the mall to purchase his shoes,” he said. “As the other subjects approached Neal, he pulled out a .40-caliber handgun from his vehicle and fired several rounds at three subjects that were approaching him.”

Martin said Mass was struck twice and died from his injuries at the scene. The other two men fled and were not injured in the shooting.

TPD officials said after the shooting Neal waited at the scene for police to arrive. Martin said Neal was cooperative during the initial investigation.

When asked whether the shooting could be defined as self-defense, Martin said that it did not appear to be the case, because no other weapons were found at the scene.

Martin said, while police were working the scene, a 30-year-old Tyler man went underneath the crime scene barrier tape and continued toward Mass’ body — despite multiple officers telling him to stop.

“Officers gave verbal commands for the man to stop as he charged the scene and continued to ignore officer’s commands,” he said. “Officers took him into custody and charged him with interference with public duties […] during the search of the man, they discovered that he was in possession of marijuana, which he was also charged with.”

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