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15-year-old arrested in homicide of Verona student Shay Watson

Shay R. Watson (Courtesy of TKO Photo Arts)
Shay R. Watson (Courtesy of TKO Photo Arts)(NBC15)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 4:41 PM CDT
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After an 8-month long investigation, police say they have arrested a 15-year-old boy in the murder of Shay Watson, who was gunned down just before starting his senior year of high school last year.

The Fitchburg Police Department said in a release Thursday that the teen is the primary suspect in the case and was arrested on tentative 1st degree intentional homicide and armed robbery charges. The suspect's name will not be released at the time because he is a minor.

Police add that officers also found narcotics, cash, and a firearm. A 40-year-old man who was reportedly violating extended supervision was also brought into custody, however he is not believed to be a suspect in the homicide.

Fitchburg Police Chief Chad Brecklin said in a taped YouTube video that accompanied the statement says that the suspect and Shay Watson were "known to each other" and had communicated with one another to set up a meeting on Aug. 25, the day the shooting happened.

During that fateful meeting, Brecklin says that the 15-year-old raised a gun and shot Shay, killing him.

"We are fortunate in our community that violence of this magnitude occurs infrequently," Chief Brecklin said. "The loss of a life, especially by violent means, is tragic regardless of the circumstances. Such losses are even more tragic when they involve the senseless loss of such a young life."

As NBC15 News reported, 17-year-old Shay Watson was identified as the teen who was

in a home in the 2700 block Lyman Lane in Fitchburg on Aug. 25. Preliminary results from an autopsy confirmed that Watson had died from homicidal firearm-related trauma.

For the last eight months, Fitchburg Police Department had not released any information about a suspect.

The homicide still remains under investigation, police say, and will not be able to release any other information at this time. Police add that it is possible that others could be charged in connection to the homicide.

"We believe there are other individuals in the community who may have valuable information related to various aspects of the investigation," according to FPD.

Following Shay's death, the community remembered him at a candle-light vigil at McKee Farms Park, where dozens gathered to honored their friend, student and athlete.

"He always was positive, always lifted people up no matter what he was going through. He always had a smile on his face," said Quan Kaffey at the time, who was a friend of Watson's.

"Shay was a respectful, 17-year-old boy who is not going to see his first day of senior year," said Savanna Rainey, another friend of Watson's.

The department asks that if you do know anything about the homicide, to contact them at (608)270-4300 or in their tip line at (608)270-4321.