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Charges brought in 'dart wars' shooting incident that wounded a teen in Anderson

melissa powers, in a gray suit and white shirt, holds a blue, white and gray toy gun with accents of bright yellow
Jordan, Felicia
Courtesy of our news partner WCPO
County Prosecutor Melissa Powers holds the Nerf gun the victim was using while playing "dart wars" before he was shot.

The sister of Bengals running back Joe Mixon and her boyfriend have been indicted for their alleged involvement in a shooting at Mixon's home in Anderson Township last week.

The boyfriend, Lamonte Brewer, is charged with felonious assault and having weapons while under disability. County Prosecutor Melissa Powers says surveillance video shows Brewer firing around 10 rounds at a 16-year-old carrying a Nerf gun on his own property, eventually striking the teen in the foot. Video also shows Sholanda Mixon collecting shell casings in the yard before the two fled the scene in her vehicle. She is charged with tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.

Powers says although the Bengals player was present during the shooting and carrying a weapon, Joe Mixon did not commit a crime and is not charged with anything.

"Joe Mixon was seen, in his backyard, with a firearm, but did not fire any shots," Powers said during a press conference Thursday.

The incident happened March 6 when area teens were taking part in an annual tradition known as "dart wars" using Nerf guns. While not a school-sponsored activity, a February newsletter sent to Turpin High School parents by the principal encouraged parents and guardians to talk to their kids about safety around the event. David Spencer said the game leads students to drive recklessly and hide around homes, prompting calls to the sheriff's office in the past, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

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"Many of the Nerf guns and homemade devices resemble a real gun to a person seeing from afar," Spencer wrote, according to the Enquirer. "In the world we live in today, that may cause extreme concern and a certain reaction that was unintended by our young adults."

During her Thursday press conference announcing the charges, Powers said Joe "Mixon claimed to have been receiving, recently, death threats on social media, and was concerned for his safety that evening, after his sister told him there were people outside with guns." She added that Mixon alerted team staff right away.

A statement from Mixon's agent says he feared for his safety and claims the Nerf guns looked like real weapons during the night-time incident.

"On the night of the incident, a number of vehicles pulled up in front of Joe's house and blocked the street," the statement reads. "This occurred when it was very dark outside. Joe and his physical therapist witnessed multiple people exit the vehicles carrying what appeared to be weapons as they ran into neighbors' yards. One individual was observed going into the trunk of his vehicle, screaming instructions, and retrieved what appeared to be a long gun (at the time it appeared to be a 'Kel-Tec' rifle). The individual ran up a back driveway of the residence yelling 'F*** yeah.' "

The statement goes on to say the 911 call has been made public and "clearly shows the level of fear and concern in (physical therapist Sean Pena's) voice."

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Powers said those in the house "should have realized these were toy guns."

"It is my belief that someone should have realized that these were toy guns," Powers said. "It's obvious — it was described as a triangle-type gun that the victim was carrying. Mixon, Brewer and Pena, the trainer, all were out there long enough for their eyes to adjust and acclimate to the darkness to be able to distinguish that these were toy guns."

The sheriff's department tells WVXU Shalonda Mixon was taken into custody Thursday afternoon.

If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of four years. Brewer faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

Updated: March 16, 2023 at 5:09 PM EDT
This article has been updated to correct the fact that the teen who was shot was on his own property, not Mixon's.
Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.