Facebook profile helps identify Decatur attempted murder suspect, police say | Crime and courts

DECATUR — Police say a Decatur man who was shot twice just before 6 p.m. Monday helped police close the case by providing them with a Facebook photo of the suspect.

Decatur Police Officer Zach Wakeland said officers matched the Facebook image to a photo they already had of Jerome J. Cole and he was under arrest at 11 p.m. 54 the same day.


Cole, 19, was convicted on a preliminary charge of attempted murder. He remained in custody at Macon County Jail on Tuesday on bail set at $750,000, requiring him to post $75,000 bond to be released.

The gunshot victim, also 19, was shot in the left buttock and left forearm and fled on foot from the crime scene in the 700 block of Cassell Court. Grief-stricken, he told police he had taken refuge in a nearby house, and after Cole left, the victim said his sister drove him to HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital.

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The victim allegedly told police he was targeted after the shooter he knew as “Jerome Flagg” approached him and, for a reason not stated in a sworn affidavit, wanted to fight him. The victim said he agreed, but was then confronted by both the man and a woman, who proceeded to “throw closed fists at him”.

The victim said he blocked his shots but then saw the man walking towards him: ‘(He) raised a black semi-automatic pistol with a 30-round magazine inserted towards him and fired,’ Wakeland said , who signed the affidavit.

“(The victim) said he didn’t feel like he had been hit. He said the man fired again and he immediately felt pain in his left buttock. He said said he had started to run away from the man … when he heard another shot and immediately felt pain in his left forearm.

He then showed police his attacker’s Facebook profile picture, which was used to obtain correspondence establishing that Cole was the shooter, according to Wakeland.

The officer said Cole did not deny firing the gun, but claimed he was acting in the woman’s defense and described the gunshot victim as the attacker. He said he acted after the victim grabbed the woman and began dragging her away.

“Jerome said he was afraid that (the victim) would hurt him badly and so he raised a gun and fired once to scare him,” Wakeland added. “Jerome said he did not hit (the victim) with a bullet and did not intend to hit him.

Wakeland said Cole claimed to have found the gun “some time ago and would not elaborate on its whereabouts.” He was later described as having cooperated with police in trying to identify where the gun was left after the shooting, but Wakeland said the gun was not found.

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid