COLUMBUS, Ohio — An 18-year-old man killed in a shooting on the southeast side of Columbus Wednesday is believed to be connected to several car thefts across the city, according to police.
Nelson Conley was found shot to death on Ellsworth Avenue. Police said a stolen Kia was found near the shooting scene.
At the time of Conley’s death, he was facing charges in 10 different cases, according to Columbus police.
Conley, according to police, was associated with the "Game Over kids," groups of juveniles responsible for a large number of car thefts across central Ohio.
“Now we have a homicide in the last 24 hours related to kids involved, witnesses, suspects, all involved previously with juvenile crime and with stolen cars, who have been in our court system,” Columbus Police Commander Duane Mabry said.
CrimeTracker 10 previously reported on an October 2021 Obetz police pursuit of a stolen vehicle that was streamed lived on Facebook by two teen suspects. Police say Conley, 17 at the time, was the driver of the stolen car involved in that case.
Conley is the second suspected car thief to become a homicide victim in the last four months.
Chaz Fleming, 18, was shot and killed inside a stolen car in March. Commander Mabry said at least three other juveniles were in the car at the time of the shooting.
“The whole reason we have done this enforcement action is to try to save these kids’ lives, not just the victim in this situation, but also the suspect,” Mabry said.
However, the enforcement is not stopping the juvenile suspects from stealing vehicles. Mabry said car thefts in Columbus are up more than 30% compared to this time last year, with 44% of the stolen cars being Hyundais or Kias.
“Yesterday, we saw real-life consequences for this. Families have been impacted," Mabry said.
The suspect in Conley’s death is 16-year-old Keith Waddell. Police say he's being charged with murder and is also wanted on several other unrelated charges.
Waddell is still on the run. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Columbus police at 614-645-4545.