Charges deferred in shooting of 2-year-old Minneapolis boy

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Monday that it has deferred charges against a second man arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Minneapolis toddler. The deferral means there was insufficient evidence at this time to charge Chris Maurice Welch in the July 8 shooting of 2-year-old Le’Vonte Jones.

Welch is being processed for release from jail. He is expected to be released Monday evening.

“Minneapolis police expended a great deal of effort and resources in investigating this tragic shooting death,” the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “They will continue their investigation and remain in contact with the county attorney’s office. If additional evidence comes in, we will look at it for possible charges.”

Welch was arrested last Thursday, July 21. He was expected to be released from the Hennepin County Jail late Monday afternoon.

Le'Vonte Jones was shot in the chest and killed on July 8 while riding in the backseat of his family’s minivan near Penn Avenue N. and Lowry Avenue N. in Minneapolis.  Also in the van and injured in the shooting was Le’Vonte’s 15-month-old sister, Melia.

The toddler's father, Melvonte Peterson, has been charged for his role in the incident. Peterson, 25, is charged with possession of a firearm and "dangerous weapons-drive by shooting toward a person." Due to prior drug convictions, Peterson was prohibited from obtaining a firearm.

Shortly after the shooting, Peterson arrived in his van at North Memorial Hospital with the two children, who he said were his kids. Police at the hospital found two bullet holes in the van, as well as a discharged cartridge casing from a 45-caliber gun.

Police obtained surveillance video which shows a shooting involving Peterson's van and another vehicle at the intersection of Penn and Lowry Avenues North, just minutes before he and the two children arrived at the hospital.