Who was Daylon Burnett? Arkansas boy, 15, shot by classmate Thomas Quarles on 1st day of in-person learning dies

Thomas Quarles was arrested soon after the incident, a motive for the attack is yet to be ascertained


                            Who was Daylon Burnett? Arkansas boy, 15, shot by classmate Thomas Quarles on 1st day of in-person learning dies
Daylon Burnett was a cadet at Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, a military training program (Tony Gatlin via Facebook)

PINE BLUFF, ARKANSAS: Daylon Burnett, 15, was pronounced dead on Wednesday, two days after being shot in an Arkansas school. Burnett was attending the first day of in-person learning at Watson Chapel Junior High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, when he was shot by classmate Thomas Quarles. Burnett's mother Keisha Lee took to Facebook to share the tragic news on Thursday, March 4. 

Burnett was incorrectly pronounced dead hours after the attack by the local police, who later confirmed that he was being treated in hospital. Quarles was arrested soon after, a motive for the attack is yet to be ascertained. Burnett was the only person to be attacked, both the police and school confirmed. 

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Daylon Burnett (Keisha Lee/Facebook)

Who was Daylon Burnett?

'DaeDae' Burnett played linebacker and running back for his school, Watson Chapel. Scheduled to graduate in 2024, the teen was also a cadet at Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, a military training program. Burnett has two brothers, both of whom attend the same school. According to his Facebook profile, he also had a job at Aeropostale in 2019. 

On Monday, March 1, Quarles shot Burnett around 10 am, placing the school in lockdown. He was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for treatment, where he died. Burnett was attending school for its first day of in-person learning after the school closed due to the pandemic. Lee initially posted a Facebook message saying, "Y’all my boy got his wings at 5:35 pm." A few hours later she confirmed Burnett's passing, posting "My baby is gone and I can’t bring him back."

In a long statement on Facebook, Lee said, "I never got a call from the school stating my son was hurt nor did they call to inform me on the active shooter. I called thousands of times to get placed on hold then hung up on. I got to the school and no one heard my cries, no one acted as if my son life mattered." A short announcement in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette announced that "funeral arrangements will be announced by Paradise Funeral Home of Pine Bluff." 

A GoFundMe page has been set up with the target of raising $10,000 for Burnett's funeral expenses and medical bills. It has already crossed the target. Following the news of his passing, the community held a balloon release for Daylon outside the school. 

A collage of images of Daylon Burnett (GoFundMe)

What about the shooter?

Quarles was found by police using a K9 dog, who tracked him to a house just off-campus. He was taken to a juvenile detention facility with bail set at $1 million. Shortly after the incident, police said the attack was "a targeted incident as opposed to a random incident," but they do not have a motive as of yet. During a probable cause hearing on March 3, prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter said that authorities were seeking a first-degree battery charge, but noted that the state would seek a homicide charge if Burnett died. 

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "The suspect's appearance during the open proceeding of District Court -- as opposed to the closed proceedings of juvenile court -- for the purposes of the probable-cause hearing suggests prosecutors will seek to charge Quarles as an adult when formal charges are filed." Quarles is next scheduled to appear in court on April 12. 

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