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Charges in tobacco shop slaying

Police credit tips for breaking case and a quick arrest

Coleman

– A man police say is responsible for the recent robbery and shooting death of a local tobacco shop owner was arrested as he exited a bus in Indianapolis.

Police on Tuesday arrested Jamel C. Coleman, 22, of the 2100 block of Eden Street. He is preliminarily charged with murder, felony murder and robbery resulting in death in the slaying of Antonio L. Niño.

Felony murder is an enhanced count often filed when the victim’s death occurred while committing another felony, such as robbery.

Tips from Coleman’s friends and family led police to identify him as the shooter, court records said.

“We’ve got to thank the community on this one,” Police Chief Garry Hamilton said Wednesday.

Coleman told police he went to The Smoke House Tobacco Outlet the morning of April 7 to rob its owner of whatever money he had on him, but a struggle ensued.

After Coleman finally wrestled the man to the floor of the store at 2217 Lafayette St., he bound the victim’s hands with duct tape, took the store owner’s own gun and shot him in the head with it, court records said.

Coleman told police his gun was broken, which is why he used the victim’s gun in the shooting.

He said he brought his gun just to scare the man and intended the robbery to be “quick and fast,” court records said.

Police talked with some of Coleman’s friends and family who said they thought it was him they saw in the video of the robbery from in-store security footage.

They all told police they told Coleman he needed to turn himself in if he was the one who killed Niño, court records said.

Police learned Coleman boarded a bus Tuesday from Muncie to Indianapolis, where the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force arrested him.

“We’re happy; he’s back within our jurisdiction, and charges have been filed,” Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said Wednesday.

Investigators were looking at Coleman as the possible shooter two days after the crime. Deputy Police Chief Paul Shrawder said police first acted on tips and anonymous Crime Stoppers reports.

Niño, who turned 44 shortly before his death, was found still alive in his store suffering from a gunshot wound. He died shortly afterward at a hospital.

Coleman, who has convictions for misdemeanor criminal mischief and criminal trespass, was being held in Allen County without bail Wednesday.

cmeyers@jg.net

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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