An 18-year-old Independence man has been arrested and charged with murder in the fatal shooting of another Independence teen Tuesday evening in the parking lot of the Independence Center.
Jackson County prosecutors charged Tyler Gates with second-degree murder and armed criminal action after he allegedly shot and killed 17-year-old Matthew Haylock and pushed him out of a vehicle in the north mall parking lot facing 39th Street. The shooting happened about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Officers arrived to find Haylock sprawled on the pavement with a gunshot wound, and emergency medical personnel pronounced him dead at the scene.
According to court documents, a witness who had been a passenger in a car with Gates driving and Haylock in the rear passenger seat told police Gates asked to see Haylock's Glock handgun as they drove near the shopping center. When they reached the area in front of the main mall entrance, Haylock asked for the gun back and Gates said he would do so when he parked the car.
Instead, when Gates acted as if he parked the car and the witness got out, Gates took the gun off his lap and pointed it at Haylock. The witness told Gates not to rob his friend, but then as he was walking behind the vehicle he heard one gunshot and saw Haylock slumped over and unresponsive.
The witness said Gates asked him to help get the body out of the car, the witness refused and Gates reached around to push Haylock out of the car before driving away.
The car was found unoccupied at a residential area a couple miles from the mall, and investigators found a red substance presumed to be blood in the rear passenger seat and two handguns in the front passenger seat. The witness later told police he had given the second gun to Gates for protection after their house had been shot at the day before.
According to court documents, a relative of Gates told police Gates had been in a “frantic state” and asked her to pick him up, which she did shortly before 9 p.m. Gates then said he had gotten into an altercation and said “I shot him.” At that point, a television news report of the shooting came on, and when Gates saw it he said he had “(messed) up his life.”
The relative then said Gates told her he and two others had gone to the shopping center to “squash everything” regarding his house being shot at. He said an unknown person had gotten into the car and tried to strike Gates on the head with a pistol, and a Gates shot the person and pushed him out of the vehicle.
While with police, the relative tried talking to Gates over the phone and urged that he turn himself in. Gates asked who had come to the house, and when the relative said police had, Gates said he would also kill the person who “snitched.”
Gates was located and arrested in Kansas City. Prosecutors requested a $250,000 bond.
The shooting happened a half-hour before the mall's closing time Tuesday, but police said the late hour and frigid temperatures meant there were few people in the area at the time of the shooting. A spokesperson for Independence Center said she could not comment on whether the mall had any extra security measures Wednesday, citing the ongoing investigation.