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Black teen shot dead at prom party hosted at rural home of white man

A Missouri family wants answers regarding the death of a Black teen, who sustained shots at a prom party, resulting in his death. 

According to reports, 19-year-old Derontae Martin visited his former Park Hills neighborhood on April 24 for a house party which a white middle-aged man hosted. His Facebook account shows that he defends the Confederate flag vehemently. Around 3 a.m. on April 25, emergency responders were asked to come to the house wherein he was found dead in the attic. 

Madison County Sheriff Katy McCutcheon stated that according to an initial autopsy, Martin died by suicide as his death showcases a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol also confirmed that he died by suicide after they conducted their own post-mortem examination. However, there are several questions pertaining to the gun’s owner and how it reached Martin’s hands. The ruling was questioned by his mother, Ericka Lotts, since her son was right-handed, and during the time of his death, his right arm was in a cast.  

Since then, activists have aligned to question the investigation and seek justice for Martin in various protests. According to activist Rev. Darryl Gray, at a protest that was held in Fredericktown last week, a primarily white area which housed the party, many protestors were called racial slurs and two nooses were tossed at them. 

Gray stated that Marin’s death seems very suspicious. There are questions as to why Derontae was in the party, and why he reached the attic. There is a belief that there was some negligence.  

According to Lotts, she heard many accounts of what had happened on the night of her son’s death and all she knows is that he was shot at.    

Gray, Lotts and Madison County Prosecuting Attorney M. Dwight Robbins asked the Missouri attorney general’s office to assess the case  though it is not clear if Attorney General Eric Schmitt will get involved. 


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