AUSTIN (KXAN) — The trial of the Sixth Street mass shooting suspect De’ondre White nears conclusion Tuesday as prosecutors call up their final witnesses, including Jeremiah Tabb, 19, someone whose name has been mentioned consistently throughout the proceedings.
White, 21, is charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of aggravated assault for allegedly shooting a Glock semiautomatic pistol into a crowd on a busy night on Sixth Street. He pleaded not guilty in court in the first week of the trial.
On June 12, 2021, 25-year-old Douglas Kantor was shot dead one day later. In addition to Kantor, a dozen others were injured in the mass shooting on Sixth Street. White is accused of firing the weapon after a confrontation with another group of people.
Witnesses over the last week have testified that White did shoot his weapon in the early morning of June 12. Friends of White, however, have sworn in court that shots were fired in self-defense and that a member of a rival group flashed a firearm antagonistically before shots rang out.
On Friday, a member of White’s group, Assiah Howard, told the court that she “wholeheartedly” believed that if White hadn’t fired the gun, her group would have been shot.
Howard also told the jury last week that her group of friends blamed Tabb for instigating the shooting. Tabb, or “JT,” had come to Sixth Street with Howard and White’s group.
Jeremiah Tabb’s testimony
It has been established in court that following the incident on June 12, Tabb tried to sell the gun that killed Kantor on Instagram. Because of this, Tabb was charged and then indicted on a tampering with evidence charge, a third-degree felony.
State attorneys revealed in court Tuesday that Tabb entered an agreement with the government concerning his charge of tampering with evidence. They said that if Tabb cooperated in court and truthfully testified Tuesday, it would be dropped.
Tabb started by sharing a similar account to previous witnesses – his group of friends, including White, traveled from Killeen to Austin to go to Sixth Street. He told the jury they didn’t go to Austin to pick a fight but to have fun.
Still, the group had with them three firearms – two belonging to Tabb and a Glock that belonged to White. After the group arrived in Austin, only Tabb and White carried a gun on them to Sixth Street.
A state attorney asked Tabb why he – a 17-year-old at the time – would be carrying a firearm, as this is illegal.
“In Killeen, a lot of things happen. So I was carrying it to protect myself,” Tabb told the court.
Tabb said he was talking with a friend when a group of three people, one wearing a ski mask, walked past them, “staring us down,” he said. Tabb said a few minutes later, the group walked past them again.
“What are y’all looking at?” Tabb recounted him saying to the group. He later admitted to also saying, “Are y’all trying to fight?”
Tabb said the person wearing the ski mask was walking in a way that “threw [him] off.” He said the man in the mask was holding his pants in a way that made him think he had a gun. Though Tabb agreed he never actually saw a gun on the masked person.
“Then everything escalated fast. Shots were fired,” Tabb told the court.
Tabb testified that White admitted to the shooting once they got back to Killeen that morning, and said it was in self-defense because he was trying to protect the group. But then they started seeing news accounts about how many people were hurt in the incident, and that White started to talk about changing his appearance, Tabb said.
“There was a lot of arguing going around. Everyone was panicking, just in shock,” Tabb added.
The central question that the jury must decide is whether White acted in self-defense in the shooting or whether he was being reckless.
Prosecutors asked Tabb if he felt threatened, then why he wouldn’t shoot the group threatening them.
He said because he thought about it for “two seconds” and decided it wasn’t worth it due to how many people were around.
Shortly after the incident, Tabb was arrested for the shooting, but the charges were later dropped. While he was in custody, prosecutors said in court he was not being truthful to authorities.
“If all he was doing was protecting you, then why did you tell all these lies?” asked a prosecutor.
“Because I didn’t want to seem like a snitch,” Tabb replied.
Toward the end of Tuesday, Detective Israel Pina, one of the case’s lead detectives, was called to the stand.
Prosecutors were only able to ask so many questions before the judge asked that they conclude for the day.
Witness testimony will resume Wednesday with concluding statements expected in the afternoon.