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Police: Arrest made in 2017 murder of 17-year-old boy

Teen found shot in head in wooded area near elementary school

Police: Arrest made in 2017 murder of 17-year-old boy
Police: Arrest made in 2017 murder of 17-year-old boy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two years after a 17-year-old boy was found shot in the head not far from an elementary school, police announced an arrest in his murder.

Ny’Qwez M. Hall, 20, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of Walter Zelaya-Mendoza.

Court records show Hall was previously arrested for theft last November.

Zelaya-Mendoza, 17, was found dead Nov. 10, 2017, on Melissa Court along a path leading to a wooded area behind homes on Jacksonville’s Westside. The teen died just one month short of his 18th birthday, according to the funeral home where his service was held.

Police said he had at least one gunshot wound to his head.

Little is known about the teen victim. According to the funeral home, he was honored and remembered days after he died.

Neighbors told News4Jax violence has been rampant since the teen was killed.

Dorothy Payne, who lives on Melissa Court, said she remembers the tragic day the teen was shot and said she’s glad to hear of an arrest.

“My bedroom is right there in the back, and I could just see his legs from back there,” Payne said.

She’s seen non-stop violence in this neighborhood and while she’s helping raise her two young grandchildren, she said there’s no other option than to move out.

“They pop guns like they are toys over here,” she said.

The wooded area where Zelaya-Mendoza’s body was found was near Gregory West Elementary School and a basketball court where children play. Many of the witnesses who saw the teen’s body were children.

Police did not say exactly how investigators tied Hall to the murder. Hall is expected in court Jan. 30.

He is being held without bond in the Duval County jail.

About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.