C.J. Nelson Jr., the 21-year-old resident of 2 Ranwood Lane arrested the night of the fatal shooting of an 18-month-old girl at that house Sunday, was said by “more than one” witness in the house that he had been handling the gun that fired the fatal shot, and that he had described the gun as “jammed” before the shooting, according to his arrest report.
The child, Ja’Liyah Allen, was shot in the head 20 minutes before midnight Sunday, and died shortly afterward at AdventHealth Palm Coast. Authorities recovered one gun from the property, described as “a black AR‐15 style pistol with no brace on it” in a Flagler County Sheriff’s incident report.
Nelson was not arrested for the shooting. He was arrested on a probation violation: last April, he was found guilty and convicted, in a plea, on a charge of improper exhibition of a firearm, a misdemeanor, after an initial charge of carrying a concealed firearm. He was serving six months’ probation. One of the conditions of his probation was a prohibition on carrying or possessing any firearms without his probation officer’s permission.
Sheriff Rick Staly on Monday said Nelson had not been charged in connection with the girl’s shooting “yet,” and did not make an explicit connection between Nelson and the shooting.
FlaglerLive has learned that whoever fired the gun had been cleaning it beforehand, that the gun had jammed, and that when it accidentally went of, the bullet went through a wall and struck the girl on the other side of the wall. The girl was breathing when paramedics arrived at the scene.
“More than one individual provided a sworn statement advising they saw CJ Nelson Junior… handling a firearm within the residence on September 3, 2023,” the probation violation arrest report states, and that he had “mentioned a firearm being ‘jammed.'” It remains unclear, however–with that many people in the house–who fired the shot.
Nelson himself told an investigator and a detective that he did not have possession of a gun and was not sure where the gun came from, according to the report. “When asked if his DNA would be found on the firearm, CJ Nelson Junior advised that it may be as he recalls touching it a few months ago at a friend’s residence.”
Nelson was arrested at 11:34 the morning after the shooting. He is being held without bond at the Flagler County jail.
There were eight adults in the house at the time of the shooting. A recording of the 911 calls the night of the shooting, released today by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, is evidence of a harrowing scene as more than one voice is heard screaming hysterically, with no one actually engaging with the 911 operator until about 45 seconds into the call.
A man’s voice tells the operator, “a baby has been shot,” then leaves the line for another 30 seconds. “What’s the address?” the operator repeatedly asks. The man is clearly overcome. “She’s dead in my arms, she’s dead in my arms,” he says, as the operator asks for the address, then asks him what happened. “The gun, the gun accidentally went off and it shot the baby,” he says. More screaming is audible, causing the 911 operator to ask the man to walk away from it so he can answer her questions. He tells her again the bay is dead, and that she was shot in the head.
When the operator asks her who had the gun, he tells her: “My homeboy.” He calls his baby’s name several times, Ja’Liyah, Ja’Liyah.
On Facebook, Ja’mari Allen, the child’s father, wrote today: “I lost my daughter to stupidity.”
The original charge against Nelson dates from last Nov. 3, when he was a passenger in a car that had been pulled over for speeding on Whiteview Parkway. The smell of pot in the car led to a search. Nelson informed deputies that there were two guns in the car. He told the deputy that he had bought the gun from an unknown person in Daytona Beach. At the time, the state’s new law allowing Floridians not to have a concealed carry permit was still a few months away from approval at the Legislature. That law went into effect last July 1. The gun Nelson said was his was a Smith & Wesson.