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Local Facebook Celebrity Is Gunned Down In Middle Of Livestream; Police Arrest Three Suspects

Terrill Smith had been broadcasting on Facebook when he was attacked by multiple assailants, according to authorities.

By Jill Sederstrom
A police handout of Terrill Smith

Three suspects have been taken into custody after a local Facebook celebrity was gunned down last week in the middle of a livestream.

Terrill Smith, 46, had been broadcasting to his Facebook page for what he called “Rells Corner” when the gunfire erupted around 11 a.m. on June 28.

“While Terrill streamed live from his Facebook page, the shooting was overheard/witnessed by many,” the Washtenaw Sheriff’s Department said in a statement about the fatal shooting. “Prior to being removed, the video had been shared numerous times and countless people were exposed to the reality of gun violence here in our community.”

Deputies arrived at Smith’s home in Ypsilanti Township shortly after the gunfire had been reported by multiple callers and found Smith with “multiple” gunshot wounds. He later died from his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Investigators took three people into custody for the fatal shooting on Friday. Martita Bonner, 41, and Jermia Castion, 25, are both facing charges of conspiracy to commit homicide/open murder. Another 24-year-old male was arrested in Georgia and is being transported back to Washtenaw County. His charges are still pending, authorities said.

Investigators have yet to comment on the alleged motive in the case, but Smith’s mother, Genniece Smith, told WJBK she believes her son was killed by people who had been upset by comments he made on the livestream.

"Terrill was a comedian,” she said. “He disrespected people and they got mad. Words can’t kill you ... a gun can.”

She said her son had been making fun of a video of someone getting beat up.

“My son put up a video of her son getting knocked out,” she said. “A lot of people didn’t like Terrill—so what! People cannot kill people for talking.”

According to Genniece, the family had gotten on Facebook Live and “said they were going to slap me and kill him” before her son was gunned down while broadcasting from a chair outside the family’s home.

In the video, which was viewed 37,000 times before it was taken down by Facebook, Smith had been talking about pride for his hometown of Ypsilanti in some of his final comments, according to Detroit-based station WDIV.

“What makes y’all think because y’all moved that y’all better than Ypsi?” he asked. “Y’all aren’t better than Ypsi. Y’all a product of Ypsi.”

He seemed to allude to a heated exchange he was having with commenters, saying “Now y’all on Facebook, ‘I’m riding around with 60 shots,’” before someone drove up to the home and Smith told his viewers, “We’ve got action.”

The shooting itself wasn’t visible on the livestream, but viewers could hear audio as more than 30 shots were fired at Smith, according to the local outlet.

The investigation into the fatal shooting remains ongoing and detectives have asked the public for help identifying anyone else who may be responsible for the fatal shooting.

Oxygen.com reached out to the sheriff's office but did not receive an immediate response.

Bonner and Castion are currently being housed in the Washtenaw County Jail. The bond for both women has been set at $1 million.

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