GREENWOOD, Ind. – A “minor conflict” led to the shooting death of a Whiteland Community High School student, police say.
Greenwood Police Chief James Ison provided few concrete details about what led up to the shooting, but he made it clear that 16-year-old Temario Stokes and 18-year-old Tyrique Sevin Radford El had been involved in some kind of dispute.
“It’s all too often these days that we’re seeing our youth resort to pulling a trigger as a result of minor conflicts,” the chief said during a news conference Friday. “We’ve got to teach our kids that there are other ways to resolve these conflicts.”
The chief continued, “There’s a 16-year-old man, a young man, that lost his life. There’s a family that’s experiencing unimaginable grief because of that loss. But there’s also another family that lost an 18-year-old who’s now incarcerated for murder. And for what? A minor conflict? It’s just not worth it.”
Ison pleaded with parents to be engaged in their children’s lives and teach them appropriate conflict resolution.
Ison did provide some additional information about the shooting, although several questions remain unanswered, including the nature of the conflict between the two teens. Ison described the two as “acquaintances” who were familiar with each other because they lived in close proximity.
After the shooting, the suspect ran south between houses and toward a nearby cornfield. About three hours later, police encountered a person matching the description of the shooting suspect.
That individual was later identified as Radford El, Ison said, who was attempting to move from the cornfield to the back yard of a home on Declaration Drive. He was “soaking wet” and “his clothes were embedded with dirt,” according to Ison.
He was taken in for questioning. After interviewing him, police served search warrants at a pair of residences in Greenwood. Radford El was arrested on a preliminary charge of murder and taken to the Johnson County Jail.
Ison wouldn’t say how many times Stokes was shot or the kind of gun used during the shooting. He said only that Stokes was shot “multiple times.”
According to Ison, there is not a second suspect at this time, but a 17-year-old student was pulled out of class Thursday for questioning. The chief described the student as a friend of Radford El who may have had information.
Ison wouldn’t comment on Radford El’s criminal history or confirm if investigators had recovered the gun used in the shooting. He described the investigation as ongoing and said the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office would review the case and make a final decision on criminal charges.
Dr. Patrick Spray, superintendent of Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation, said Stokes enrolled at the school on Aug. 17. He spent only four days in class before being killed. Radford El had graduated last year, Spray said.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough to lift this unimaginable pain inflicted on Temario Stokes’ family,” Spray said.
The school is providing mental health services to students in need of them.
When asked why school remained in session after the shooting, Spray said many buses were already on their routes and staff were already in school facilities, as were many students. Administrators believed the police perimeter would effectively contain the situation and that schools were safe, Spray said.
Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation also released a statement:
August 25th 2022, was an extremely difficult day for the Clark-Pleasant school community. As you know we
lost a young man, a sophomore at Whiteland High School, who at just 16 years of age, had a long life ahead of him. We are all saddened especially for the Temario Stokes Jr’s’ family and we want them to know that they will be in our thoughts and prayers as we work through this together. We will support the family in any way that we possibly can, as a school community. We were also saddened to hear that the alleged suspect, Tyrique Radford El, is a former student.
We are grateful to members of our law enforcement community, especially Greenwood Police, who responded rapidly and handled the investigation professionally. We would also like to thank the other Johnson County police agencies who responded, including those who assisted our Clark-Pleasant Police Department in securing our buildings during Thursday’s lockdown. “The bottom line is that no teenager or student anywhere should ever have to face a tragedy like this”, stated Superintendent, Patrick Spray. “Young people need to know that differences can be settled in other ways and that violence is never the appropriate response to any dispute.”
CPCSC has mental health professionals and area faith leaders who will be available today and as long as it
takes to help any students or staff members process this tragic event. “When you speak to your children, let
them know that the adults in their lives, including their family members, teachers, school administrators,
ministers and others who love them, are doing everything they can to keep them safe”, concluded Dr. Spray.
Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation stands committed to safety in our schools and community.