COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus man has claimed self-defense after being accused of shooting and killing a Black 13-year-old boy.
A prosecutor shed light on why Krieg Allen Butler Sr., 36, was no longer facing a murder charge for the death of Sinzae Reed during his Wednesday arraignment hearing in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. After being arrested one day after the October 2022 shooting, Butler told investigators that Reed came around a building’s corner and shot at him first, and Butler returned fire.
Initially, witnesses found at the scene — located in the 800 block of Wedgewood Drive — told police they saw Butler get out of a red pickup truck and shoot, hitting Reed twice, before getting back in and driving away. Records showed Butler was initially charged with a single count of murder in Franklin County Municipal Court.
However, the prosecutor said while being interrogated by police, Butler said other witnesses to the shooting would corroborate his claim of self-defense. He did not know them, but gave descriptors for investigators to look for them.
Police then found and interviewed three people who confirmed Reed fired first, according to the prosecutor. All three of them added that after Reed collapsed in the street, they also saw someone approach and remove what they thought was a firearm from his body. The latter detail matched what one initial witness told investigators, but that person only described it as an object.
The prosecutor added during the hearing that several other witnesses told police that, while they didn’t see what happened, they heard “two volleys of gunfire … clearly coming from two different directions.” Investigators did not find any bullet casings from where Reed was, or where Butler’s truck was, and did not spot any bullet holes in his truck or the surrounding area either.
Emergency crews responded to the Oct. 12 shooting around 5:46 p.m. They took Reed to OhioHealth Doctors Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and staff pronounced him dead at 6:26 p.m.
After initially denying owning a firearm or that he shot back at Reed when officers arrested him, the prosecutor noted Butler later admitted to returning fire and then got rid of his gun after leaving the scene. While not facing any homicide charge, prosecutors have since charged Butler with felony improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence. The presiding judge gave Butler a combined $105,000 bond on the two charges, a no-contact order and also barred Butler from possessing firearms throughout the case.
DeJuan Sharp, who identified himself as a representative of Reed’s family, spoke with reporters after the hearing and rejected the idea that the teen had a gun.
“If you’re Black, you can die in any manner and no one cares,” Sharp said. “They had no gun ever found. There has been no gunshots, no bullet holes in Krieg’s car, no bullet holes in any building outside of Wedgewood.”