Online flirtation can have violent consequences: over the weekend a Texas man was shot and killed during an argument about a tweet the assailant had left for another man’s girlfriend.
According to police in Tyler, Texas, 23-year-old Chris Mass of Chapel Hill TX, a former star high school athlete and junior at Stephen F. Austin State University, was shot and killed Saturday morning in the parking lot of the J.C. Penney’s at the local Broadway Square Mall. Police arrested 25-year-old Ricky Neal Jr., of Henderson, TX, at the scene; Neal, who shot at another individual but missed, has subsequently been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
As the investigation unfolded it turned out that the assailant, Neal, had sent a flirtatious tweet to another man’s girlfriend on Twitter. When that man encountered Neal in the mall, an argument ensued and both men agreed to take the dispute outside to the the mall parking lot, accompanied by Mass and one other man. Instead of a fistfight, Neal then produced a gun. Mass was shot for trying to “keep the fight fair,” according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, which quoted eyewitness Charalan Mosley: “It all happened over a tweet and Twitter, all that stuff.”
Although Neal initially claimed the shooting was in self-defense, police quickly dismissed the claim, as neither Mass nor his friend were carrying weapons. Neal’s bail has been set at $1.25 million. Police also arrested Desmond Javon Black, a relative of the slain man, for interfering with police and marijuana possession; Black had tried to enter the crime scene to see the body.