FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 03, 2021


Media Contact: Vicki Elaine Becker (574) 296-1888

The Elkhart County Homicide Unit has completed their investigation into the police-action shooting death of Lonnel Cephas, Jr., (19), of Elkhart. After the official autopsy reports were received in mid-October, and other forensic evaluations were completed, the case was reviewed by Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker to determine if any criminal charges were appropriate arising from the events. The Elkhart County Coroner, Merv Miller, will issue the formal finding relating to the official cause of death upon completion of his inquiry.

Evidenced in the investigative materials are the undisputed facts that Cephas, intent on causing serious physical harm to his fifteen year old estranged girlfriend and her mother, fired multiple rounds from a 9mm handgun toward them at the threshold of a residence in the 500 block of High Street in Elkhart on August 27, 2021, at approximately 10:22 a.m. While none of the bullets actually struck the mother or the girl, several penetrated the wall and door of the residence, behind which a very young child was standing. The child, Danton Munoz, just days short of his second birthday, was struck in the head, causing a fatal wound. Cephas then fled the scene.

First responders arrived at the scene in approximately three (3) minutes and observed a female holding the limp body of the child covered in a substantial amount of what appeared to be blood. An officer performed emergency resuscitative efforts until medics arrived and relieved the officer. Witnesses identified the shooter as a black male named “Lonnel,” and a description of him, that left in a blue van toward Vistula Street on Franklin Street. Minutes later, a blue van was spotted in the vicinity of Wolf Avenue and a possible suspect, fitting the description provided by eyewitnesses, was observed walking northbound in an alley in the area of 8th and Cleveland Avenue, Elkhart. Sgt. Mike Davis was the first officer to arrive at the area where the possible suspect was walking. Sgt. Davis engaged the male and commanded him to show his hands. However, Sgt. Davis observed the male “tugging” at something in his front pocket, retrieve something, and put it up toward his head. At that point, Sgt. Davis recognized the object in the male’s hand was a gun. Sgt. Davis commanded the male to drop the gun; however, the male brought the gun down and in the direction of Sgt. Davis at which time Sgt. Davis fired his duty rifle at the male, who was clearly hit and dropped to the ground. When other officers arrived and rolled the male over, a 9mm handgun was observed under his body near the area where his right hand had been.

Lonnel Cephas, Jr., 19, of Elkhart, was determined to have died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds from Sgt. Davis. The 9mm handgun that was recovered under his body was identified by forensic analysis as having fired the bullets at the High Street scene, killing Danton Munoz, minutes before. Mr. Cephas has a long history of juvenile offenses in Elkhart County, including Robbery, and multiple pending charges in adult court at the time of his death. Forensic tests demonstrated Cephas had active THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, in his blood system at the time of his actions.

Given the undisputed material evidence in the case, also corroborated by audio and video law enforcement recording devices, it is clear that the shooting and death of Lonnel Cephas, Jr., by Sgt. Mike Davis, EPD, was justified pursuant to Indiana law for the protection of himself, and others. Accordingly, the resources of a Grand Jury are neither necessary, nor warranted, in Prosecutor Becker's decision to decline to file any criminal charge as a result of Mr. Cephas’ death.

Prosecutor Becker expressed that “there are no words sufficient to express the profound and senseless loss of this child, just days before his second birthday. The persistent unreasonable use of deadly weapons by people in our community continues to threaten the safety of everyone, as well as the rights of reasonable citizens.”

As Cephas is deceased, no criminal prosecution may proceed relating to the death of Danton Munoz.



“Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”