BILLINGS — It’s been three months since 15-year-old Khoen Parker was shot and died in a parking lot near Castle Rock Park in the Billings Heights. Police have made no arrests, and continue to call it an open investigation. So community members have tried to take matters into their own hands, sourcing information online and through social media.
The latest tip came Tuesday night. Angie Schmidt, a close friend of Parker’s family, posted a screenshot of a conversation in which a Facebook profile for someone named Jacob Ross Speeler claims to have a video of Parker being shot.
"He sent me a direct message about another post I had made (about my car being egged). He said he knew who did it," Schmidt said. "The conversation then turned to me asking him, 'Do you know who Khoen Parker is?' He took it as a diss, and then he said I have video who shot Khoen. I know the first and last name."
Police have confirmed there were multiple people in the parking lot when Parker was shot. New Billings Police Administrative Lt. Matt Lennick saw the post early Wednesday morning.
"I took care of that at the beginning of the day," he said. "The investigators working the case have been notified, and they’ll pick it up from there."
The post was made in the Billings Neighborhood Watch Facebook group, one of a number of pages that Lennick monitors.
"It’s important to follow because they’ll say things on social they don’t report to us," Lennick said. "Several times a week I see stuff on social media pages that I can send out (to investigators)."
"It's absolutely vital (to get it to police) if it has any truth behind it," Schmidt added. "We have to take it somewhat serious because of the information he claims he has."
Lennick said social media has changed policing. This is one of a number of tips they have to sift through to determine any kind of credibility.
"It allows people a platform to put incorrect information out," he said, "and that alters people’s perceptions of how we’re doing something, why we’re doing something."
But with a lack of information from the police, Schmidt said they won’t just sit back and do nothing.
"There’s a fear factor trying to do some investigating on our own," she said, "but with time going by, it's hard not to try and take some of it in our own hands.
"The pain is not going away or getting easier. It's getting worse."
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