Pennsylvania Teen Charged as Adult for Killing Homeless Man

( – In what seems like an escalating number of extremely violent incidents perpetrated by teenagers, a 15-year-old Pennsylvania boy has been charged as an adult with the first-degree murder of a 39-year-old man.

Police say the teen, Thomas James Niarhos, shot Jeremiah Hawkins in the face and killed him on November 22nd. It is not clear what caused the confrontation between the teen and the middle-aged man, but Niarhos allegedly sought out Hawkins in a dispute that resulted in the man’s murder.

According to witnesses and CCTV video, Niarhos appeared to be seeking a confrontation with Hawkins in Pottstown, which is about 40 miles from Philadelphia. Investigators say the older man brandished a tire at the teen during the argument; Niarhos was apparently holding a gun when Hawkins came at him, swinging the tire in an attempt to keep Niarhos away.

Niarhos allegedly fired the gun at Hawkins who immediately collapsed, and then Niarhos shot him a second time before dropping the gun and walking away from the scene. Bystanders and witnesses physically detained the teen until police arrived.

The teenager was brought before a magistrate judge to be arraigned, and he was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a minor, and carrying a gun without a license, among other charges. Officials say the gun Niarhos used was a .40 caliber semi-automatic which belonged to his father.

Hawkins, the victim, was pronounced dead at the hospital, with the coroner confirming the shot to his head is what killed the man. Hawkins was homeless.

The killing took place around noon, and police arrived shortly after, finding Hawkins lying in the street with “an obvious gunshot wound to the head.”

It is not clear whether Niarhos yet has an attorney. In Pennsylvania, suspects are brought before a magistrate for what is called a “preliminary arraignment.” Suspects are given a copy of the criminal complaint against them and are advised of their rights. State law does not require a suspect to make a plea during the preliminary arraignment; that takes place at the later formal arraignment.

For now, the 15-year-old Niarhos is being held without bail at the Montgomery Youth Center. His next hearing is scheduled for the end of November.

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