Decatur police: 4 charged in killing, robberies sought easy targets at random

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DECATUR, Alabama — Three teenagers and a man people charged in a weekend killing and a string of robberies apparently chose their victims at random, police said.

The Decatur Daily (http://bit.ly/1JTGtH0 ) quoted authorities as saying the suspects apparently sought out people who would be easy targets.

Police Capt. Nadis Carlisle said the victims were "targets of opportunities" with no known grudges involving the suspects.

"They were just going around having a good time," police Capt. Nadis Carlisle said of the suspects, all from Decatur.

Joseph Cowan, 20, was arrested Sunday on a capital murder charge, police said. Two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old were each charged with murder and four counts of robbery.

Court records weren't yet available Monday to show whether the suspects had defense lawyers.

The four were charged in the death of Antonio Hernandez, who was shot to death in the carport of a home Friday night.

Police say the four may also be involved in the killing of another man whose body was found Saturday morning, but no charges were filed immediately.

Authorities say the suspects also are believed to be linked to holdups including the robbery of three teenagers at an elementary school playground last week.

Police said the three teenage suspects will be tried as adults.

The arrests of the three teens came about 27 hours after Hernandez's death. Police Chief Ed Taylor said more than 20 officers worked to make arrests in the shootings and robberies.

"Everybody we could get was out there," he said. "There was a full-court press."

Hernandez was shot to death about 10 p.m. Friday.

The man who lives at the home where the shooting occurred said he and Hernandez were smoking in the carport when four men in a silver Nissan Altima surrounded them and demanded their money and property, police said.

The two men met their demands and were lying on the ground when one of the robbers shot Hernandez several times for no apparent reason, police said. The homeowner ran away.

About an hour later, police received a report of a woman being approached and threatened by four men while she was preparing to get her sleeping daughter out of her car, police said. The woman gave the men her purse and they left in a silver Nissan Altima, police said.

The four also will be charged in incidents were shots were fired into two homes, investigators said.

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