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17-year-old charged with murder in death of 16-year-old after reporting fake carjacking

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NORTH CHARLESTON — A teenager has been charged in the death of a 16-year-old boy earlier this month after investigators determined the suspect had reported a fake carjacking.

Juan Lopez died Nov. 19 at the Medical University of South Carolina from a gunshot wound, Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal said on Nov. 23.

The suspect, 17, initially was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, police said, but the charge was upgraded to murder after the victim died.

Lopez, a Summerville resident, was shot in the early hours of Nov. 3 in what North Charleston police initially believed was a carjacking.

Officers were sent around 3:15 a.m. to an apartment on Alston Avenue near the Charleston International Airport to interview the alleged carjacking victim.

Another call came in reporting a rollover accident with injuries a few blocks away, on Ward Avenue. The car matched a description of the one involved in the alleged carjacking, according to an incident report.

Officers met with a 17-year-old and his father. The teen explained he was sitting in his car when two men approached him, wearing all black with their faces covered, according to the incident report.

One of the men had a gun and directed the teen to get out of the car, he told police. The teen said he had tried to fight the man, but one of them hit him on the face with his gun, causing him to fall.

The 17-year-old ran to his apartment and called police, and was later taken to the hospital, according to the incident report.

Investigators later learned that while the alleged carjacking and car crash were connected, the crash was not an accident, police spokesman Harve Jacobs said.

Lopez, determined to be the car crash victim, was found inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital.

Investigators ultimately concluded the reported carjacking never actually occurred, Jacobs said.

Police arrested the 17-year-old, whose identity has not been released.

Initial charges of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature were upgraded to murder, given Lopez’s death nearly three weeks later, Jacobs said.

Call Jocelyn Grzeszczak at 843-323-9175. Follow her on Twitter at @jocgrz.

Jocelyn Grzeszczak covers crime and public safety in the Charleston area. She is a North Carolina native who previously wrote breaking news and features for Newsweek and The News-Press.

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