CARROLLTON, Ga. (USA TODAY) -- A 17-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a boy while he slept.
Malik Davis has been charged with murder in the death of Nizzear Rodriguez, who was shot hours after celebrating his 13th birthday. Police said the suspect's mother persuaded him to turn himself in to police.
Davis also faces burglary and firearm possession charges. Police believe a second suspect was present during the crime, but have not released that person's name.
The shooting happened Sunday in a unit at the Bristol Lakes Apartments.
Originally, authorities believed Rodriguez was killed in a drive-by shooting. However, that theory changed late Sunday, and police now believe Davis went into Rodriguez's bedroom and shot him while he was in bed, according to Capt. Chris Dobbs of the Carrollton Police Department.
Police are looking into the possibility Davis intended to shoot someone else; he'd had past encounters with other residents of the apartment complex. Police have not yet determined if Davis and Rodriguez knew each other.
Nizzear Rodriguez(Photo: 11Alive News)
Dobbs said police never had dealings with Rodriguez, who he described as a top-notch student at Carrollton Junior High School, or the boy's family. Investigators have had dealings with Davis, but never for anything as serious as murder.
"Nizzear was a wonderful student, well liked and always smiling," principal Dr. Todd Simpson said in a statement. "This is a difficult day for this school and the entire system. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nizzear's family during this difficult time."
Carrollton City Schools spokesman Jay Goodman said grief counselors will be available Monday at the system's four schools and nearby Tanner Hospital.
Superintendent Dr. Kent Edwards called it "a somber day."
"There is no preparation adequate for the loss of a child under such circumstances," Edwards said. "We will continue to work with authorities as they work through the investigation."
Police confirmed they served a search warrant at the townhouse next to Rodriguez's home Sunday and made several arrests for assaults and possible gang activity.
Both Rodriguez's family and other neighbors said the neighborhood has been in a recent decline due to gangs.
Kanisha Osorio, the victim's aunt, said before her nephew was shot, the boy's grandmother had been making plans to move the family because the apartment complex was dangerous.??