A member of the Louisiana-based Jena Six is being treated at a local hospital after shooting himself in the chest.
The Associated Press reports that Mychal Bell injured himself Monday night (December 29) at his grandmothers house in Monroe.
According to a police report, the shooting was reported at 7:40 p.m. At the time of the incident, Bell was staying at his grandmother, Rosie Simmons,’ home as his mother, Melissa Bell, arrived for a visit.
Melissa Bell told authorities that she and Simmons heard a gunshot coming from Mychals room and found him on his bed with a wound to his upper right chest.
Despite recovering a .22-caliber handgun, police were not clear on Tuesday (Dec. 30) as to who owned the gun.
Bell’s wound was not life-threatening, authorities said. Louis Scott, a lawyer who represented Bell and five other Jena High School students during the Jena Six case in 2006, revealed the shooting stemmed from his former client being upset that his recent arrest for shoplifting would ruin his dream of playing football for the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“When it was broadcast that he was charged with shoplifting he just felt that the whole year had been wasted and that he had worked all of that time for nothing,” Scott said.
The police report on Mondays shooting noted that the shoplifting arrest eventually took its toll on Mychal Bell.
Mrs. Simmons and Melissa Bell disclosed to police that Mychal had made comments over the past two days that, because of the current media attention he had because of the shoplifting arrest, he didn’t feel like he could live anymore.”
Bell was arrested on Christmas Eve after he allegedly tried to steal several shirts and a pair of jeans from a department store.
The 18-year-old was later found hiding under a car after fleeing from a security guard and an off-duty police officer who tried to detain him.
Prior to the alleged shoplifting, Bell was known as one of the Jena Six. The group, comprised of black teenagers, garnered headlines after being charged with attempted murder for the beating of a white classmate at Jena High School in 2006.
Charges from the case, which centered on nooses being displayed at the school, resulted in national outrage and criticism that led to a civil rights march involving more than 20,00 people who traveled to Jena for the protest.
Although charges for all members of the Jena Six were later reduced, Bell was sentenced to 18 months as a ward of the state after pleading guilty to juvenile charges and moved to Monroe to be placed in foster care.
He was released from state supervision on Dec. 4.
Bell, who spent 10 months in prison awaiting trial after the 2006 arrest, is scheduled to graduate from Carroll High School in the spring.