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Mother of downtown shooting suspect denies son's involvement

By Dana Clemens, Reporter, dana.clemens@kmiz.com
Published On: Jun 27 2013 05:15:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 27 2013 05:40:02 PM CDT
Teresa Smith

Teresa Smith, mother of accused downtown Columbia shooter Eric Cravens

COLUMBIA, Mo. -

The  mother of the man accused of being the gunman in the downtown Columbia shooting tells ABC 17 News her son did not do it.

Eric Cravens, 20, made his first appearance in a Boone County courtroom Thursday after prosecutors charged him with three counts of first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

Teresa Smith said her son was at home when the shooting happened on June 15 and that police have the wrong man in custody.

"I just want my son's name cleared," Smith told ABC 17 News. "They know, and everybody out here in Columbia knows, that's not Eric's character."

Smith is refusing to take her son's arrest quietly. She says she has been trying to talk with police since Cravens' arrest on Wednesday.

However, she said they do not want to hear what she has to say.

"Today, I went down there with information I found out that's very credible to the investigation and he refused to listen to me, refused to hear anything I had to say," she said. "I know in my heart, with my own eyes, that my son was in my home at the time of the shooting, and that's why I'm not understanding how they're putting him somewhere he wasn't even at."

Cravens' sister say she can prove he is innocent.

"I know he was with me at that time, and I know he was not the shooter," said Janay Bennett.

She also said the Break Time convenience store on Nebraska Avenue and the Taco Bell on Clark Lane have surveillance video that would prove Cravens left the scene of the shooting long before it happened.

Columbia police are telling a different story.

Court documents obtained by ABC 17 News show Cravens was arrested because a single witness saw him get out of a car, reach back in for a gun, then shoot toward a large group of people who were crossing the street at Broadway and 10th Street.

The witness told investigators she was 20 feet away from the shooting and identified Cravens in a photograph.

Both Smith and Cravens' sister talked with ABC 17 News Thursday and said they believe his arrest was the easy way for police to end their investigation.

"What I feel like they are trying to do (is) trying to close the case as soon as possible to get the heat off of them," said Bennett.

"I feel like they were pressured to get the shooter off the street, and instead of doing it the right way and doing a thorough investigation, they got names and just picked one," said Smith. "I don't think the investigation was done properly at all because if it was, they would have the real shooter off the streets."

ABC 17 News tried to contact Columbia police to get more of details of their investigation, but phone calls were not returned.

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