The accused murderer did not see who shot, killed Jasper

Aug. 31 — The attorney for an 18-year-old charged Tuesday in a shooting death at a Southwest Decatur apartment complex said his client was outside when Friday’s shooting occurred inside an apartment.

Justin Da Shawn Fuqua, who police say lived in the apartment at 1220 Second Ave. SW, set himself on fire Tuesday after police on Monday identified him as a suspect and described him as “still at large and … actively wanted.”

Fuqua and a 17-year-old, also charged with manslaughter but not identified by police because he is a juvenile, are being held without bond in the Morgan County Jail in the death of Daniel James Abate, 20, of Jasper. The 17-year-old was arrested on Monday.

Decatur attorney Carl Cole said Fuqua’s client contacted him Tuesday and they went together to the police station where Fuqua turned himself in.

Authorities said Abbate’s body was discovered partially hidden next to a trash can at the apartments at 1220 Second Ave. SW at about 6:40 am. of Friday. Police documents list apartment 20 in the complex as Fuqua’s residence.

Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said Tuesday that Abbate was killed by a gunshot wound to the upper chest. Police said the shooting death occurred during a robbery.

“Mr. Fuqua was outside when the shooting occurred inside his brother’s apartment,” Cole said Tuesday afternoon. “He is not sure who the attacker was as there was a party going on with many people present that he did not know.”

Decatur Police Detective Jasmin Ferizovic filed an affidavit in Morgan County District Court Tuesday saying witness statements supported the charge.

“Daniel traveled to Decatur the night before to sell firearms to another party,” Ferizovich wrote. “Daniel went down in Decatur. Witnesses identified two people who were present with Daniel when he had to sell the guns,” Ferizovich said, and those people were Fuqua and the juvenile.

Ferizovic reported that witnesses saw Abbate’s body outside Fuqua’s apartment and saw Fuqua and the juvenile in possession of Abbate’s firearms after Abbate’s death.

“Witnesses then observed (Fuqua and the juvenile) move Daniel’s body from outside the apartment to (the) street and hide it,” the detective wrote.

Fuqua previously attended Decatur High School, but Decatur City Schools officials said he had withdrawn and did not graduate from the school system.

Last year, another fatal shooting occurred at the same apartment complex.

On May 9, 2021, the body of 59-year-old Chester Lee Jordan of Decatur was found fatally shot in the parking lot of the apartment complex about four doors north of where Abbate’s body was found.

In Jordan’s death, Mashaud Tyliek Lewis, 22, of Decatur, was arrested on May 13, 2021 and charged with murder. U.S. Marshals arrested Antone Lamar Yarbrough, 28, of Decatur, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on June 29, 2021, and he was also charged with manslaughter in the case. Both remain in the Morgan County Jail without bond.

A resident of the apartment complex on Tuesday said she would like to move but is financially unable to do so.

Tiffany Scalf, 32, said she was at work Friday morning when news broke that Abate’s body had been discovered near the dumpster. She said she and her husband did not hear any gunshots earlier that day.

“I went to work around 4:30 (a.m.) and a friend sent me a screenshot on my phone about the body being found,” Scalf said. “I want to move, but I can’t afford it right now.”

She said they moved into the apartment in April and Friday’s incident was the first reported problem since she’s been living there.

“Since they found the body, I’ve been staying inside unless I’m at work now,” he said. “I mind my own business. But everyone I’ve met here has been very nice and friendly. I hope this was just an isolated incident. I think the police might need to patrol this area a little better as well.”

Quentin Lovelady, 38, was repairing a friend’s vehicle in the parking lot of the apartment complex Tuesday afternoon and said he was saddened to hear the news of Abbate’s death.

“Maybe the owners can install some surveillance cameras to help catch people,” he said. “And I can’t understand why the police can’t come through here every two hours or so.”

— or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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