A bullet from a high-powered assault rifle killed 5-year-old Payton Benson, authorities believe.
That bullet had a different name, a different target, in mind — someone who was standing in between the gunman and the duplex where Payton was eating breakfast near 45th and Emmet Streets, authorities said Wednesday.
But an Omaha man, 20-year-old Vincent Hicks, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in Payton's death under a legal theory called transferred intent — that Hicks intended to kill someone that day when the bullet instead struck Payton.
Authorities pieced together who shot Payton based on interviews with witnesses and other evidence, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.
In addition to Hicks, prosecutors plan to charge three other gang members who spilled out of a stolen Jeep Commander.
The four are believed to have been chasing a rival gang member in rival gang territory. Of the four, at least three spilled out of the Jeep Commander and opened fire.
Adonus Moses was arrested and will be charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Jaylen Montgomery, 18, was booked on suspicion of discharging a firearm at an occupied dwelling, use of a weapon to commit a felony and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Jacob J. Brown, 21, was booked on suspicion of discharging a firearm at an occupied dwelling and use of a firearm to commit a felony.
Both Kleine and Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer lauded Omaha police detectives' work in trying to pinpoint who fired the shots that killed Payton.
“These arrests are the product of a community that has stepped forward to assist law enforcement, coupled with gang and homcide detectives who have worked tirelessly to solve this case,” Schmaderer said Wednesday.
Kleine declined to disclose many details about the investigation.
But the county's top prosecutor did acknowledge what the investigation has yet to uncover:
• The actual bullet that killed Payton.
The bullet hasn't been found. It traveled through the front of the house, through Payton and through the back of the duplex. Crime scene investigators have scoured the surrounding area but have yet to find it. That has led investigators to conclude that it was fired from the high-powered rifle. Witnesses have put the assault rifle in Hicks' hand.
• The intended target that day. The men in the Jeep Commander were pursuing a man who was running through the neighborhood and ducked for cover inside a resident's home. However, investigators are still working to identify that person.
• Any of the weapons used. Authorities believe all four men inside the Jeep Commander had guns, but detectives are still searching for the weapons.
The four charged Wednesday were already in custody on lesser charges related to the little girl's Jan. 15 homicide.
Two other men, Shaun R. Murph Jr. and Kevin Peak, are being held in connection with the investigation.
Murph, 21, is charged with possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. Peak, 20, is charged with possession of a stolen firearm.
Bail for all six men is set at $1 million each. Hicks, Montgomery, Brown and Moses will appear in court on the new charges later this week
Follow Omaha.com for more on this developing story.