Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Family grieves Colorado Springs gunshot victim's death as surveillance video shows intruders' exploits

November 6, 2017 Updated: November 7, 2017 at 6:44 am
0
photo - (Photo courtesy of Conte' Smith-El's family.)
(Photo courtesy of Conte' Smith-El's family.) 

Conte' Emanuel Smith-El left Detroit to escape violence only to be slain in Colorado Springs, family members said Monday.

Smith-El, 24, had been bullied through high school, where his cognitive impairment placed him in special needs classes, said his sister, Charmaine Jones.

Two weeks after graduating from high school in 2011, he moved to Colorado Springs.

He was shot to death Oct. 30 at 2231 E. Platte Ave. Jones said the unmarked business is a dispensary where he worked in sales while also studying to become a barber.

"I expected something like this in Detroit to happen. I absolutely did," she said. "But not here. Not here in Colorado Springs."

Police identify the storefront as "a business previously known as Dr. Reefer."

Deddrick Davonte Hill, 23, is described as armed and dangerous. (Courtesy of CSPD) 

Deddrick Davonte Hill, 23, is wanted on suspicion of first-degree murder. He is described as armed and dangerous.

Hill's alleged accomplice, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of first-degree murder.

The business owner, Amaziah Cozy Thompkins, accessed the shop's video surveillance system remotely while in California, an arrest affidavit says. He saw Smith-El lying on the floor and tried to call him, but Smith-El didn't answer.

Thompkins asked an acquaintance to check on Smith-El, and when the acquaintance and a woman got to the business, they called 911.

Surveillance footage shows a teenager entering the business, the affidavit says.

It gives this account:

When a man carrying an ArmaLite-style rifle starts to enter, Smith-El tries to close the door.

But the armed man - identified as Hill - pushes his way in and forces Smith-El to the ground at gunpoint.

The teenager, meanwhile, goes into a back room, where he appears to be searching for items to steal.

The armed man is starting to tie up Smith-El with a belt and extension cord when Smith-El knocks him to the ground and tries to escape.

Two gunshots can be heard, followed by "Smith-El screaming in pain and screaming for help," the affidavit says.

Both men fled, and Smith-El was dead of multiple gunshot wounds when police arrived.

His mother, Barbara Jones, works as a community dispute resolution specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Charmaine Jones, center, wipes away her tears surrounded by her family members at the vigil for her brother Conte Smith-El on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Smith-El was killed at a business on East Platte avenue on Monday night, Oct. 30. 

She said she began working in youth violence prevention about a decade ago after seeing the "constant bullying" her son endured. Gang members attacked him during his freshman year, she said.

His sister agreed. "With his challenges, it always has been a struggle for him to fit in," she said, but he was loving and trusting.

Others took advantage of him, and he couldn't always differentiate between "good friends and not good friends. ... he just wanted to be loved," his sister said.

Their mother said she often begins her work presentations by telling her son's story.

"I said to myself, 'I got him away from one violent situation to walk into this, so how do I continue to tell his story?' I've questioned how I'm going to continue doing this work, because I've got to edit the story. But I'm more determined now than ever."

A photo of Conte Smith-El hangs on the door of the shop where he was killed after it was decorated for a candlelight vigil on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Smith-El was killed at a business on East Platte avenue on Monday night, Oct. 30. 

Said his father, who moved to Colorado Springs in March and also is named Conte' Smith-El: "It's kind of hard for me to articulate my words because I'm so angry. I mean, what was the purpose? He wasn't a threat to nobody. He didn't have a problem with nobody - nothing that I know of, and he told me everything."

The brother and sister lived together when Smith-El first moved to Colorado Springs, the parents said.

His sister, who always looked after him, helped him get a job.

"She was basically his mother - let the truth be known - because when he was born, we both were working," their father said. "Anytime he got upset or was crying or whatnot, he basically went to his sister, because she was the one who raised him."

And Jones, who owns MaineTaining Styles, a hair and nail salon at 908 N. Circle Drive, has stayed strong for the family, Barbara Jones said.

"She is my rock," the mother said, beginning to sob. "She was his rock. He was her rock."

-

The Gazette's Hugh Johnson contributed to this report.

-

Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.