‘Jena Six’ Teen Shoots Himself in the Chest

Published December 31, 2008

Depressed about yet another negative media blitz, one of the teens convicted in the infamous “Jena Six” case shot himself just days after being arrested on a shoplifting charge in Louisiana, police said.

Mychal Bell, 18, shot himself in the chest with a .22-caliber firearm and was rushed to the hospital Monday.

"I think he was upset over the incident ... and didn't want to be in the news again," said Monroe Police Sgt. Cassandra Wooten.

Bell was first cast into the national spotlight in 2006 when he was one of six Black teenagers facing attempted murder charges after an altercation with a White classmate in Jena, La. The charges for all of the teens were eventually reduced, but the initially harsh prosecution triggered cries of racism and sparked a mass march of 20,000 activists on the tiny, mostly White Louisiana community.

Bell’s latest brush with the law occurred on Christmas Eve, when he was arrested and booked on charges of shoplifting, resisting arrest and simple assault, police said. Police say Bell tried to steal some shirts and jeans from a Dillard’s department store and that he ran when a security guard and off-duty police officer tried to detain him. They found him hiding under a car, and when they approached him, he "swung his arms wildly" and struck the security guard with a glancing blow, according to a police report.

He was freed on $1,300 bond.

Written by From Staff & Wire Services

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