How cops say a mother’s $650 dispute ended with a teen shot and a son charged with murder

Eric Graham
Eric Graham Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office

Boynton Beach resident Eric Graham turned 20 on Friday. And he spent Saturday talking to police about drive-by shooting on his birthday that left one person dead and a 13-year-old shot in the face.

Graham woke up Sunday in Palm Beach County Jail, charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

The arrest report says Graham claims he wasn’t the shooter and didn’t know there would be a shooting. But, it says, he admits to being the driver and that the shooting had to do with the victim putting a pistol on his mother, Julia Robinson, earlier Friday.

The names of both victims, the adult who died from two shots to the upper back and one to his femur (thigh bone) and the teenage boy shot in the face, were withheld.

Everything, the report said, happened around the Cherry Hill Mini Market, 1213 NW Fourth St., around which “multiple spent .223 casings were recovered from the roadway of Northwest Fourth Street.”

Robinson found her ex-boyfriend — to whom she’d loaned $650 she, told police — standing on the corner near the store around 11 a.m. Friday. She approached, asking about the money. Robinson said her ex replied to her request for repayment with: “I ain’t paying you ----” and pulling a gun on her.

Robinson retreated and went home.

Surveillance footage from the store soon after showed a red Nissan Rogue speeding east on Northwest 12th Avenue and Robinson’s ex-boyfriend reacting by racing toward the Cherry Hill Mini Market’s entrance, just ahead of the pursuing Nissan. The report said video showed a rifle protruding from the passenger window and firing.

Meanwhile, inside the store, a recalcitrant credit card machine delayed the departure of a 13-year-old trying to pay for his goods. Store employees told police they heard the gunshots and realized the 13-year-old had been hit at the checkout counter while Robinson’s ex-boyfriend collapsed in Aisle No. 2.

Witnesses around the market knew the car, Graham and Robinson, the report said — they lived next door to the store.

Police tracked the Nissan to Robinson’s mother’s home in The Preserve at Boynton Beach apartment complex, 1.4 miles away, where police also found Robinson. She told police she hadn’t told any of her relatives about her face-to-gun confrontation with her ex. But police say a check of her phone showed a phone call to her son Graham at 11:45 a.m. before the shooting and a noon call to Graham after the shooting.

Graham surprised cops by showing up at the Boynton Beach police station Saturday. The report said after video stills disintegrated his denial that he’d driven his mother’s Nissan the previous day, he admitted his mother told him about her ex pulling a gun on her. He said he wanted to fight the ex.

He left his apartment next door for the store, picked up a couple of his pals in The Preserve, then returned to the area around the market. Graham said he saw the ex riding his bike near the store. As Graham slowed the car, his passenger in the front seat pulled out a rifle and fired. After the shooting, Graham said he took the SUV back to The Preserve and cleaned it.

“Graham denied that he had any knowledge that his front passenger was armed with a rifle and was shocked when shots were fired,” the report said.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.