6 minors charged in 15-year-old boy's drowning death in Georgia

Updated

Six children, including a 9-year-old, have been criminally charged in connection to last month's drowning death of a 15-year-old boy, police in Georgia announced Thursday.

The teen's death took place late last month in Columbus, a city about 115 miles southwest of Atlanta, not far from the Alabama state line.

According to the Columbus Georgia Police Department just before 2:30 p.m. on May 29, officers responded to a report of a body floating in a retention pond near a set of fields behind a residential neighborhood in the city's Oakland Park neighborhood.

Police identified the victim as Zahmere Greene, 15.

Preliminary findings by the departments Violent Crimes Unit revealed Zahmere drowned on May 23, but the incident wasn’t reported until six days later.

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Coroner ruled Zahmere Greene's death a homicide

The Muscogee County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy and a medical examiner ruled Zahmere's manner of death a homicide, police spokesperson Brittany Santiago told USA TODAY Friday.

Further investigation, police reported, revealed six juveniles witnessed the boy's drowning, one − an 11-year-old boy − who was on top of the victim when he died.

Six juveniles, ages 9-17 charged in Zahmere Greene's death

According to police, the following juveniles are charged in the case:

  • A 17-year-old boy: Concealing the death of another;

  • A 12-year-old girl: Concealing the death of another;

  • An 11-year-old boy: Involuntary manslaughter and concealing the death of another;

  • An 11-year-old girl: Concealing the death of another;

  • An 11-year-old girl: Concealing the death of another;

  • A 9-year-old boy: Concealing the death of another.

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11-year-old was reportedly on top of the victim

According to police, the 11-year-old boy charged with involuntary manslaughter, was reportedly on top of the victim before he died.

On Friday, police said, the 11-year-old boy was being held in the Regional Youth Detention Center.

Santiago said that boy and the victim knew one another, and it is believed the children were all enrolled in the Muscogee County School District.

Muscogee County School District Director of Communications Kimberly A. Wright said Zahmere was a rising freshman and all who knew him were "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

"We always look forward to welcoming all our students back after summer vacation, and it is especially heartbreaking when one does not return due to a loss," Wright told USA TODAY. "Zahmere's presence will be missed within our school community. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and all who knew him during this difficult time."

Columbus Georgia Police Department officers respond to a scene. The department is investigating after a 15-year-old boy was found dead in a retention pond in late May 2024. Six minors, including a 9-year-old boy, have been charged in connection to the boy's killing.
Columbus Georgia Police Department officers respond to a scene. The department is investigating after a 15-year-old boy was found dead in a retention pond in late May 2024. Six minors, including a 9-year-old boy, have been charged in connection to the boy's killing.

17-year-old boy charged as adult in case

The 17-year-old boy − the older brother of one of the females charged in the case − recently turned himself in on the charges, Santiago said, was arrested and booked into the Muscogee County Jail.

The teen is being prosecuted in adult court and on June 7, the day of his arrest, a judge bound his case over to Muscogee County Superior Court after finding probable cause in the case.

Online records show the 17-year-old boy was free after posting a $1,500 bond on Tuesday. Online records did not have an attorney listed for the teen.

The other four juveniles were processed, charged and released to their parents, Santiago said.

"The Columbus Police Department emphasizes the importance of parents encouraging their children to speak up immediately when they know something is wrong," the department posted on its Facebook page. "The principle of “see something, say something” is vital in helping prevent tragedies and ensuring the safety of our community."

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 6 juveniles charged in teen's drowning death in Columbus, Georgia

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