A&M Commerce dorm shooter connected to Denton murder

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Left to right: Jacques Smith, Earnest Rogers and Jalin Hargrove. Photos courtesy of Denton City Jail and Hunt County Jail.

Three men have been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection to the shooting death of a young man in Denton on New Year’s Eve. One of those suspects is also accused of the fatal shooting of two sisters Monday at Texas A&M University – Commerce, according to the Denton Police Department.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, police were called to a shooting in the parking lot of an apartment in the 900 block of Cleveland Street, according to police. Steven Daniels Jr., 22, was found on the ground with a gunshot wound to his chest, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital soon after.

According to arrest warrant affidavits released Wednesday by the Denton Police Department, a friend of Daniels’ told police that just before he was shot, Daniels’ phone lit up, and then he told her to not leave the apartment as he took his iPhone 11 and pistol and left. Police didn’t find the phone or pistol at the scene of the shooting, in the apartment or in the possession of the victim, so it was believed that the suspects took the pistol.

Detectives were able to trace a phone call and use security video from a nearby convenience store to identify possible suspects. On Tuesday, Denton police detectives assisted the Texas Department of Public Safety with a search warrant in the 8300 block of Luna Drive in Rowlett in regard to a double homicide on Monday at Texas A&M University – Commerce, which is northeast of Dallas. Two sisters, 20-year-old Abbaney and 19-year-old Deja Matts, were fatally shot in Deja’s dorm room, according to WFAA. Abbaney’s 2-year-old son, Allen, survived being shot in the leg. Abbaney’s ex-boyfriend, 21-year-old Jacques Smith, was identified as the suspect in the shooting.

During the search on Tuesday, evidence was located that connected Smith and two other men to the New Year’s Eve fatal shooting in Denton. Denton detectives then applied for a secondary search warrant for the residence, according to the news release from Denton police. Denton investigators also learned than an informant had told authorities that Smith was selling a pistol that he had gotten from a robbery and murder in Denton.

Following the search, Denton detectives obtained three warrants for capital murder for Smith, 23-year-old Jalin Hargrove and 26-year-old Earnest Rogers. Hargrove and Rogers were placed under arrest and transported to the Denton City Jail without incident. Smith was transported to the Hunt County Jail by DPS for the double capital murder at Texas A&M University – Commerce with a third count of capital murder added for the murder of Daniels, according to police.

Anyone with any information about the Daniels case is encouraged to call Denton County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-388-TIPS or the Denton PD tip line at 940-349-TIPS.

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Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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