Public Safety

Court documents reveal details of fatal Christmas shooting in Coralville

2 brothers face murder charge in death of Gregory Jackson

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation's crime scene van is parked in front of 952 Boston Way in Coralville on Dec.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s crime scene van is parked in front of 952 Boston Way in Coralville on Dec. 26, 2019, the day after a fatal shooting there. Two brothers are to be arraigned in August in the fatal shooting of Gregory Jackson, 30, of Iowa City. (Lee Hermiston, The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The arraignment of two brothers charged in the fatal shooting last Christmas of a 30-year-old Iowa City man will be delayed.

Elijah McAbee, 18, is charged with first-degree murder, aiding and abetting first-degree murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of Gregory Jackson on Dec. 25, 2019, in Coralville.

His brother, Milton L. McAbee, 20, also is charged with first-degree murder in Jackson’s death.

Both arraignments will be reset to next month, according to court records.

The brothers weren’t charged until April because they had to be extradited to Iowa from Kentucky, where they were arrested.

Coralville police Chief Shane Kron told The Gazette in April the shootings grew out of a dispute between juveniles — name calling and gesturing — who were roaming the neighborhood looking for a fight.

Court documents filed after the McAbee arrests provide details of what happened that evening, and federal court documents indicate where authorities believe the brothers got the weapons used in Jackson’s slaying.

The shooting

Coralville police were called to the area near 952 Boston Way at 9:32 p.m. Dec. 25 on a report of shots fired and people wounded. Officers found three people with gunshot injuries.

Jackson and another victim — an adult male and “close associate” of Jackson’s who is identified only as “Victim #2” — were taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, according to the affidavit. Jackson died about 10:41 p.m. An autopsy showed he had three or four gunshot wounds to his body.

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While investigators were at that hospital, they learned Phillip McAbee was being treated for a fractured jaw as a result of being “pistol whipped” by Jackson, according to the affidavit.

Officers at the shooting scene had talked to Phillip McAbee’s son, Elijah, who was “upset and agitated” about what had happened to his father, the affidavits show.

“Victim #2” told authorities he was at an apartment on Boston Way with Jackson. They heard people were outside with guns. Jackson and another person, also not identified, went outside to check it out.

When Victim #2 caught up to Jackson and the other man, he saw an “adult Black male,” leaning up against a parked vehicle, with a rifle-style gun with a small ammunition magazine, according the court documents.

He asked the armed man what was going on, and then heard shots being fired near where Jackson was standing.

He turned toward the armed man near him, who raised a gun and pointed it at his chest.

The victim said he tried to grab the gun and was shot in the right shoulder. He ran and was shot again in the right ankle.

The shooter, he said, was Elijah McAbee, who he recognized from the neighborhood.

A separate complaint states Milton McAbee, in retaliation for Jackson injuring his father, threatened to kill Jackson. Milton McAbee obtained a gun and went with others to confront Jackson, fatally shooting him.

Milton McAbee admitted the shooting to another person, according to the complaint.

Source of guns

Federal court documents filed last month indicate where the McAbee brothers may have obtained their guns.

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Tremayne Clemons, identified as a “close associate” of the McAbee brothers, faces two federal counts of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms.

Witnesses told authorities the McAbees were frequently at Clemons’ apartment at 954 Boston Way. They were there the night of the shooting and left with firearms, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Authorities also believe Clemons was trafficking marijuana from his apartment, based on past complaints.

After obtaining a search warrant, police said they found three firearms and ammunition, firearm magazines, THC cartridges, CBD wraps, drug paraphernalia and two cellphones.

A forensic exam of the cellphones revealed text messages consistent with Clemons selling drugs, the court document shows. Investigators also found cellphone photos and videos of marijuana and firearms.

Clemons, during a police interview, admitted to using marijuana and said he “always” carries a firearm.

Authorities contacted local gun dealers and learned Clemons had bought five firearms in the past three months. One was returned to a gun dealer, two were found at Clemons’ apartment and two were missing.

Family members of Clemons have started a GoFundMe page to help Clemons, saying he is wrongly accused in the Jackson shooting and still is being held because of the shooting.

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Coralville Police Chief Kron said he was aware of the social media posts but couldn’t comment on a federal case.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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