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2 charged in toddler’s shooting death

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Police chief: ‘I don’t have the words to describe the despair’

By Hannah Strong

A Lancaster woman and her boyfriend were arrested Tuesday after her 2-year-old son was fatally shot Monday evening at their home on East Dunlap Street.
The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office identified the child as Jacarion Antonio Gladden. He was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound about 8 p.m. Monday at Springs Memorial Hospital.
Toni Lashay Gladden, 26, and her boyfriend, Shazeem Tyrell Hayes, 18, both of 509 E. Dunlap St., were charged with unlawful conduct toward a child.
Gladden was also charged with misprision of a felony – defined as knowingly taking steps to conceal a crime when directly questioned about it.
“After a full night of lies and avoidance, those responsible are now in custody and will be held accountable,” said Lancaster Police Chief Scott Grant.
Officers responded to Springs Memorial about 7 p.m. Monday after reports of a shooting. What they found, Grant said, was devastating.
“I don’t have the words to describe the despair of seeing a beautiful child lying lifeless as a victim of a gunshot wound,” Grant said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The incident happened inside the Dunlap Street home.
Grant would not comment on who pulled the trigger, details about the gun or if a fight led to the fatal shooting.
It’s unknown if the shooting was intentional or an accident.
Grant said as the two suspects drove the child to Springs, they struck a pole on West Arch Street but were able to continue to the hospital.
Now, Grant said, the police department’s duty is to “speak for Jacarion.”
“I can tell you this child was a victim of extreme negligence on behalf of those who should’ve been his most ardent protectors,” Grant said.
With Toni Gladden in custody, both of Jacarion’s parents were in jail. Grant said the child’s father is Rashad Demon “Shorty Cake” Johnson.
Johnson is awaiting trial on 13 charges, including the May 21, 2016, murder of Deangelo Markeith Kirk at Palmetto Place apartments, according to the 6th Judicial Circuit Public Index.
About 9:30 Monday night, grieving family and friends gathered outside Springs Memorial, awaiting word on Jacarion’s fate.
Michael Gladden, who said he was Jacarion’s grandfather, was among those huddled quietly in the parking lot.
“I’m so mad I can’t even damn cry,” said Gladden. “My mother’s friend came to the house and told me about it.
“I don’t know what happened. I was just with him yesterday, and he was telling me he loved me.”
The 500 block of East Dunlap was quiet Tuesday morning. The crime scene tape from Monday night was no longer up.
A neighbor, who said she was also a family member, witnessed a vehicle leaving the home after the incident. At the time, she said, she had no idea what happened.
“The next thing you know I seen the car speed off around the corner,” she said, noting a man was driving the vehicle. “I didn’t hear any gunshots. I was in the kitchen cooking.”
Jacarion, the relative said, always played in the yard and loved to dance. She said he liked to hang on his mother’s shoulder and loved Cheetos.
“I want to know what happened,” she said.

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Follow reporter Hannah Strong on Twitter @HannahLStrong or contact her at (803) 416-8416.