‘Absolutely a Tragedy’: 11-Year-Old Allegedly Sat on 15-Year-Old Friend While He Drowned In Georgia Pond. Five Other Children Watched, But No One Reported It for Nearly a Week

Six children in Columbus, Georgia, the youngest of whom is just 9 years old, have been charged in connection with the drowning death of their 15-year-old friend whose body was discovered last month floating in a retention pond.

The Columbus Police Department confirmed those arrested as a 17-year-old and five other younger juvenile suspects between the ages 9 and 12, who were all believed to be friends from the Muscogee County School District.

: 11-Year-Old Allegedly Sat on 15-Year-Old Friend While He Drowned In Georgia Pond.
15-year-old Zahmere Greene, left, drowned as 17-year-old Shane Sano, right, witnessed it and did not tell anyone. (Photos: YouTube screenshot/ Walter Lee Hampton, Columbus Police Department)

Zahmere Greene, a Black child, drowned May 23, but his pals did not report the incident for six days, leading to the grisly discovery in the retention pond on May 29, according to the Columbus Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit. 

Zahmere’s body was found at the dead end of Ormand Drive, behind a line of trees near the Chattahoochee River, where the basin was filled with stormwater due to heavy rainfall in recent days. Authorities believe the children were horseplaying before the fatal incident.

The county medical examiner later ruled Zahmere’s death a homicide following reports that one of the kids in the group was allegedly sitting on the victim when he drowned.

As a result, one 11-year-old faces the most serious charges of involuntary manslaughter and concealing the death of another, while the 17-year-old, 12-year-old, 9-year-old and two other 11-year-olds were only charged with concealing the death of another.

Everyone in the group witnessed Zahmere’s death but said nothing to anyone about it, police said.

The 11-year-old primary suspect was arrested June 13 and taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center, where he was still being held.

The 17-year-old — identified as Shane Sano — was charged as an adult and detained in the Muscogee County Jail before being released on $1,500 bail, according to the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Department. 

His case was remanded to Muscogee County Superior Court, but his first hearing has not been scheduled yet.

The younger juveniles were processed and released to their parents, according to the Ledger-Inquirer.

The records of the five underage suspects were sealed by court officials, and their names were withheld from the public.

“The Columbus Police Department emphasizes the importance of parents encouraging their children to speak up immediately when they know something is wrong,” The Columbus Police Department said in a statement. “The principle of ‘see something, say something’ is vital in helping prevent tragedies and ensuring the safety of our community.”

Presumably, one of the boys in the group revealed what happened after keeping it a secret for nearly a week, as no one in the community had reported the body to authorities. 

Columbus Police Department Deputy Chief Lance Deaton said the tragedy was made worse because both the victim and suspects were so young.

“It’s tragic all the way across the board,” he said, according to station WTVM ABC9. “You know, a family lost a 15-year-old son and you’ve got an 11-year-old who is now charged with involuntary manslaughter and will have to answer for those charges and that family is having to deal with that as well. So, it is absolutely a tragedy, but we have to remember somebody died in this.”

Zahmere’s mother, Jamaica Harbison, said he was a “sweet soul” who wanted to be a pastor. Harbison told the local outlet that she would’ve never guessed that the 11-year-old would’ve been the one to take her son’s life because they were close friends.

“I thought of him as a witness, not the accuser. Zahmere always protected that little boy,” she said.

The incident has left her family grief-stricken and Haribson’s seven other children traumatized.

“They are afraid to make friends. They don’t want to leave my house anymore,” Harbison added.

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