The death of 19-year-old Blinn College student Lacie LaRose at a graduation party last month was the result of an argument that began over a game of beer pong, a witness told The Eagle.

The two-bedroom home in the 900 block of San Benito Drive now sits unoccupied. The backyard where LaRose was shot, along with two others who received minor injuries, shows no signs of a party, let alone that a young woman was gunned down there. The residential neighborhood less than a mile from A&M Consolidated High School was quiet Tuesday afternoon, the one-month anniversary of the shooting that police said remains under investigation.

On the night of the shooting, there were between 100 and 120 people at the graduation party where a pay-per-view boxing match drew a crowd that included neighbor Ronald Wayne McNeil, 39.

Landon Duke, the 23-year-old guest of honor at the May 2 party, said McNeil lived across the street and came to the party with two friends. Duke, who was celebrating his pending graduation from Texas A&M on May 17, had never met or interacted with McNeil, a convicted felon.

Earlier that day, Duke and the party's host had gone door-to-door telling neighbors about the party and asking them to contact either of them before calling police to file a noise complaint. Duke said he and his friend never invited anyone to the party, which is why he thought it was odd to see McNeil and his friends at the party.

"It was a little strange that they were at the party but they were really nice, at first, congratulating me on graduating," Duke said.

During the televised boxing match, Duke said McNeil started to get verbally upset about the partygoers not cheering for Floyd Mayweather. Duke described it as a small disturbance that wasn't a big deal.

Police were called to the house for a noise complaint at some point after midnight, according to a police report.

By 1 a.m. Sunday, the party died down to about 20 or 30 people, witnesses said. McNeil and his friends were hanging around, playing beer pong in the garage with some of the college-aged guests.

One of McNeil's friends got into an argument with one of Duke's friends over the rules for beer pong, Duke said. The verbal exchange became more heated and McNeil and his friends were asked to leave, according to Duke, who said he had stood up to join his friends in escorting the men out.

Duke said he threw a punch that knocked one of McNeil's friends on the ground; the man got up and left with his friends. Duke said some other people threw punches in the altercation, but that the fight was over pretty quickly. Duke did not name who the other people in the argument were.

Accounts from the police report and Duke vary as to what was said as McNeil and his friends backed down the driveway.

Investigators wrote in court documents that McNeil told authorities some of the other people at the party were yelling racial slurs and beating up his friend. Duke said he heard McNell yell that he was going to get his gun, but didn't recall anyone yelling racial slurs. McNeil and his friends are black; Duke and most of his friends at the party are white.

"We're a bunch of college kids. We didn't think anything was really going to happen. Just to be safe, we closed the garage door anyway," Duke said in a recent phone interview.

The guests kept the party going and Duke said he and LaRose were getting ready to play a game of beer pong together. LaRose went into the backyard to get a few beers for the game -- that's when Duke said he heard the first shot. Fourteen shots rapidly followed, according to witness statements and the police report.

Duke said he did not see McNeil fire the shots.

Police records state McNeil told officers during an interview that he accidentally fired the gun while running up to the house. McNeil reportedly told investigators after his arrest that it was his goal to scare the kids at the party with his Glock .40 caliber handgun.

LaRose was hit by the gunfire and someone dragged her partially into the garage, which is where Duke said he saw her after taking cover under a couch. Witnesses reportedly heard LaRose say "Call 911; I can't breathe."

Court records state that McNeil and a friend were seen fleeing the scene by an officer who was in a patrol car down the street when the shooting began. The officer responded to the scene, stopping McNeil's friend and giving dispatchers a description of McNeil's white Ford F-250 pickup. McNeil was apprehended a short time later.

He remained late Tuesday in the Brazos County Jail on $500,000 bail. In addition to murder charges, McNeil is facing two first-degree felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a third-degree felony deadly conduct charge.

A spokesperson for the College Station Police Department said the case is still under investigation.

McNeil was previously convicted in February 2000 for felony manufacture of a controlled substance in Bastrop County. He later servied a three-year sentence after being convicted for possession of a firearm by a felon in Williamson County.

Love 'Em Like Lacie

LaRose's mother, April LaRose, said on Tuesday she'll never get over the loss of her only child.

"Every morning I wake up thinking this is a nightmare," the Irving resident said.

Lacie Christabelle LaRose was born Feb. 2, 1996, in Irving to April and Robert LaRose.

LaRose's love of animals started at an early age and never waned. Her mother said she constantly brought home strays for which they'd have to find homes. As Larose grew older, she found a job at an animal clinic in Grand Prairie.

Her senior year of high school, LaRose applied and was accepted to the University of Arkansas. April said she and her husband convinced their daughter to change directions and select College Station and, ultimately, Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The couple said they felt College Station offered a safer environment as a little country town that wasn't too far from home.

"She didn't fight us. She just always agreed and went with whatever we came up with," said April.

Jacee Wren was preparing for her sophomore year at Texas A&M when she met Lacie LaRose last August.

"She was really down-to-earth. She never made me feel like the odd person out," Wren recalled.

Wren said she would hang out with LaRose close to five days out of the week since that first meeting. Wren described their kinship as "two country girls who loved to drive the back roads in their trucks," swap weekends at each other's parents houses and made friends everywhere they went.

"Lacie felt like she was making some lifelong friends," Wren said.

Among those friends was Landon Duke, who said he met LaRose three months ago through a mutual friend.

"One of the things that attracted me to her is she was always happy. She would always have a smile," said Duke, adding "She was definitely the life of the party."

Saying goodbye

LaRose's exuberant spirit was exhibited a week after her death as friends traveled to Irving for LaRose's funeral. A long line of trucks in the processional had American, Texas and Confederate flags flying.

Several fundraisers have been set up in honor of the 19-year-old Blinn College student whom everyone described as friendly, outgoing and a die-hard animal lover. Two separate gofundme.com efforts have raised a combined $4,290 to help start nonprofit foundations in LaRose's name and help pay for funeral costs.

Wren and her friends made bracelets with the phrase "Love Em Like Lacie" on it. Wren said on Tuesday that she sold 700 bracelets and more orders are on the way.

"Mrs. April and Mr. Robert are still having a hard time but having so many of Lacie's friends still visiting them everyday makes it a little easier," she said.

Duke said he's stayed in contact with LaRose's parents. He also said he's grateful for the few days he got to spend with Lacie before her death.

"I just want to let everyone know how much of a positive vibe she provided me in the last days of her life."

Lacie's mom said she's doing the best she can to fill her daughter's shoes by being a friend to anyone who knew her daughter.

"They'll tell me stories about things they did with Lacie that keep me laughing," April LaRose said.

The mother's next move, she said, is to continue the #justiceforlacie movement through social media. She said she also wants to speak to officials in college towns about finding ways to keep criminals from living in neighborhoods with college kids.

"These kids are trying to go to school and do something with their lives. They don't need to be worried about having these criminals living around them."

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(27) comments

Jennifer T

This was not a month ago! It was a year ago!!!

Oh Really

It gives the date of the article, the article is as written in 2015, so it would say a month ago.

youmadornah


according to Duke, who said he had stood up to join his friends in escorting the men out.


Duke said he threw a punch that knocked one of McNeil's friends on the ground; the man got up and left with his friends.

SO WHY WOULD THERE BE A PUNCH THREW IF MCNEIL AND HIS FRIENDS IS LEAVING? SO APPARENTLY AND CLEARLY THE REASON OF THIS WHOLE SITUATION STARTED BECAUSE BROCK THE WHITE KID WANTED TO BE A BIG AN TOUGH GUY ,, WHICH APPARENTLY WAS SOFT SINCE HE HAD TO SNEAK AND THROW A PUNCH!!! AND THROW PUNCHES WHICH RESULTED IN A BAD CHOICE OF A POINTLESS KILLING... SO YEA ALL THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF THE FIRST PUNCH WASNT THROWN SINCE THEY WHERE LEAVING THE PARTY !!!! SOME OF YOU ALL ARE SO DUMB ALL YOU SEE IS COLOR AND NOT READING THE STORY !!

Cupcakey

@youmadornah there's a reason as to why the punch was thrown. That's why people are speculating & trying to figure out what went wrong that night to lead to this tragic outcome.

My Observation

No Jessie, Al or Barack to speak on this. No riots or burning of a city. White lives matter.

John Ratzenburger

Someone's privilege is showing, white man.

Oh Really

Please elaborate. How is privilege showing?

georgew

Diversity is a codeword for #whitegenocide, one more sad fact to this message

HayZeus

"Well Regulated Militia" again...

NASOR

"the right of the people" again, except in this case the felon already had his day in court and had that Right correctly abrogated.

freewaybaby

Still, he IS the one who had served time due to "possession of a firearm by a felon". Three years didn't change his mind about owning a firearm, which he IS entitled to own, once the correct time passed after abrogation, maybe NOT so "correctly" abrogated, as you state. He IS the one who chose to overstay his welcome (along with his friends), when the evening progressed and things got tense... and he IS the one who brought a gun into a situation with malice aforethought. You may argue that point, but, since he had already left the party without being pursued (his life NOT in danger), reasonable assumption is that he went BACK to the party to cause harm. What good could he think would come of returning to a place that he was asked to leave? No good, that's what! He could NOT think that he could go back there and nothing bad would happen! That is exactly why some people should not own guns! I have reason to not have a gun in my OWN home; those reasons include that, at least one person here, may, in an extreme stress situation, use that gun, most likely upon himself, but possibly on another, before the stress abates. Regardless.... if you are willing to take a deadly weapon into a "situation", you must be prepared to use it OR possibly have it used on you! AND, if your intention was to "scare the kids", why was it loaded? First degree; nothing less!

samdavis

I see that the schools ''gun free zone'' policy worked well from the point of view of the killer. The school should be sued for creating an easy killing zone with an anti gun policy but not providing personal protecting for each student who they forced to be easy victims.

vliam

Does it hurt to be that stupid?

BONNIE WINNER

v you are funny and right.

Nosmall Feets

What school? This happened at a residential home.

Cupcakey

So many things wrong here. Students going door to door in the neighborhood, trying to be proactive & their friendliness probably let people to think anyone was welcome. Letting in older men to the party, but how do you tell your neighbor to go away, and really who would have thought there'd be a problem? He was a neighbor! Getting into an altercation with older men about a racially charged issue (them not rooting for Mayweather) and then being called racial slurs. The guy saying he was going to get his gun & no one reacting. And what's with the confederate flag flying at her funeral? Does that give a hint as to who the attendees of this party were, because like it or not, nowdays the confederate flag is a symbol that indicates racism. That might have triggered the fight to begin with, if lots of like-minded people were there. All a huge mess that culminated in a young girl's death and a man going to prison for life. Such a waste, all the way around.

BONNIE WINNER

Cupcake, take a hike. People who want to turn this into the whitees are racial are nothing but race baiters and watching you comments, it is obvious you are one. I will not respond again to your baiting and I hope others will follow suit.

Cupcakey

What? I said all that and only thing you got out of it was my questioning the confederate flag? I said a paragraph of other stuff before that. It's a legit question in today's world. I also said it was a waste all the way around. Why are you accusing me of race baiting? I asked a question.

Jack Lower

Forgive me if I am misunderstanding you, but you seem to be implying this guy was justified in killing this girl because her company could, potentially, arguably, allegedly, may have been slightly racist.

I'm unsure what constitutes your moral foundations, but even if these kids had a Nazi flag waving outside their house and a large sign saying "No Niggers" outside their party, that would not justify MURDER. Sensible people would be offended, certainly. He would also have both legal and moral standing to ask for the offending material to be taken down.

This guy murdered an innocent college kid. There is NO JUSTIFYING THAT. Yes, murder is worse than racism. She did NOT deserve to be gunned down because there was a confederate flag waving at her funeral. I feel like a crazy person having to argue this.

clinicalgoddess

I agree with BarelyInterpid it really doesnt matter in the end who said what the killer had no justified right to kill this girl.
He life was in no danger he went back to his house and came back with a gun.
That was a conscience choice and as for his excuse of just wanting to scare the kids, thats no excuse.

If he felt wronged in some way he could have called the police and let them figure it out from a legal stand point.
Its a shame that a young woman lost her life because of a spat that she seemed to be not involved in for the most part.
And as for a confederate flag, who cares, it represents the south if people want to believe otherwise thats their decision what a ridiculous thing to bring up.

Condolences to her family.

Cupcakey

No Barely Intrepid, I did no such thing & did not say he was justified in killing her because the partygoers were racist. That's almost funny, if it wasn't so...ridiculous. I am white myself and guess what. My best friend is....white! And guess what else! I don't have any black friends! I know some black people. But we don't hang out after hours. We don't go to the movies together, we don't go to each other's houses, our kids don't play together, we don't go to restaurants, we don't socialize. We are polite, friendly & social in a work atmosphere. And then the work day whistle blows and we're gone to our separate worlds. Which is fine with me AND them. You can hardly call me a race baiter. But I'm smart enough to know that yes, the confederate flag, today, is a symbol of hate and racism, in the eyes of black people. It is. Yes. Come out from under that rock. It IS. And if these people (these "white" people, that is) fly it so proudly, and they KNOW what the flag represents to black people, then maybe, just maybe, they don't have the purest of intentions. Maybe they are $hitty to the old black guy who's at their party causing trouble & trying to get them to root for Mayweather & change the beer pong rules to benefit him. Maybe they did call him racial names. It's not that out of the question. Maybe he was the wrong n-word-with-an-a to mess with that night. Maybe he was looking for a fight. I have no idea. But they all weren't sitting around eating tea & crumpets & proclaiming the virtues of Young Prince George. Is it that hard to comprehend that a drunk-azz black felon went & got his gun & shot up the place because he was p!ssed over feeling mistreated by a bunch of white kids?

georgew

willing to justify a murder. probably just an #antiwhite white.

Tulet

In addition to murder charges, McNeil is facing two first-degree felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a third-degree felony deadly conduct charge.

How about the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon also? This should be a death penalty case. He intentionally went back to his house and got the gun, returned through a side gate and opened fire, killing the girl. 1st degree homicide, the guy doesn't deserve to be breathing.

NASOR

The charge of felon in possession will be either tossed completely or used as a bargaining tool. You and I both know it won't be used as it rightfully should.

freewaybaby

Even though, he MAY have regained the right to own and possess a firearm in Texas, it would only be allowed on the premises on which he lives, so THAT law (Texas law) was broken....just for starters.
Both Texas law and federal law impose restrictions on gun possession and ownership for people who have felony convictions. Federal law is more strict than state law. Texas Penal Code Sec. 46.04 allows a person with a felony conviction, after the fifth anniversary of the person’s release from confinement or the person’s release from community supervision (probation) to possess a firearm on the premises where he lives. Federal law does not contain a similar time limit so it is a violation of federal law for that same person to possess a firearm, even in their home.

Hope Elpoa

This is most tragic. It did not have to end this way. I wish they had asked the shooter to leave when he showed up for the party uninvited... I feel really sorry for her family.

BONNIE WINNER

Headline is not true. What lead to this was allowing unknown persons into the party to start with. Students beware, not everyone is good.

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