WXYZ-TV

Fireworks Shootings: What Do the Witnesses Say?

By Ray Sayah
Web produced by Jenny DiDomenico

August 26, 2004

Two days after the fireworks shootings at Hart Plaza, Aaron Edmondson was certain about two things. He was certain that he was lucky to survive two gunshots, and he was certain the man who shot him was not Daron Caldwell, the man police had in custody.

"I watched the news and as they had him in handcuffs and everything, I looked like that’s not the guy," Edmondson said.

Aaron Edmondson’s startling revelation to Action News is among a host of statements that raise this question: Why are police and prosecutors so sure Daron Caldwell is the Hart Plaza gunman when so many witnesses and victims are not?

At Daron Caldwell’s preliminary hearing, nine witnesses took the stand. Only one witness, Chris Thackaberry, testified that on the night after the shooting he picked Daron Caldwell out of a photo line-up, but Thackaberry also testified he is not certain Caldwell was the shooter.

Three other witnesses at the hearing said they saw a gunman. Sherita Echoles said she didn’t get a good look at the gunman’s face

"I really didn’t see the face of person," were her exact words.

Dominic Kennedy and Brandon Patterson testified they did see the gunman’s face, and they’re certain it was not Daron Caldwell.

"I swear on my kids that’s not the guy," Kennedy testified.

Doria Jackson was another prosecution witness whose testimony only added to the confusion.

In a police report obtained by Action News, police list Doria Jackson as a witness who observed the defendant Daron Caldwell shooting a handgun at the scene.

But at the preliminary hearing, Jackson testified she never told police she saw a shooter pointing a gun at the crowd.

"I didn’t see the guy shoot a gun," Jackson said in court.

Jackson did testify that after she heard gunshots, she saw Daron Caldwell get up from the ground. When he got up, Doria Jackson says she saw a gun on the ground, but she couldn’t say who the gun belonged to.

Defense attorney: When you saw him get up and walk away did you notice something?

Jackson: There was a gun on the blanket.

Defense attorney: You don’t know what relationship that man had to the gun correct?

Jackson: Correct.

The description of the shooter also raises questions. Some witnesses described him as dark skinned, while others said he was light skinned.

Three witnesses testified the shooter wore a black t-shirt, but Chris Thackaberry said he wore a white t-shirt.

Some witnesses testified the shooter was involved in a fight over sunglasses, but others testified they never saw the shooter fighting with anyone.

Despite conflicting statements, police reports that don’t match witness testimony and not a single witness who is 100 percent sure who fired the gun on the night of the fireworks, police and prosecutors are somehow certain Daron Caldwell is the Hart Plaza gunman.


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