Man charged in basketball game shooting faces judge

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A man charged in a double, fatal shooting during a high school basketball game in Humboldt faced a judge.

Monday, Jadon Davon Hardiman appeared in court for the murder of Justin Pankey and Xavier Clifton, and attempted murder of Dontavious Cross.

The shooting occurred at Humboldt High School back in December of 2021 between Hardiman and Pankey, who was shot and killed at the scene.

The two other victims, Clifton and Cross, were not involved.

“As I was looking at that video before the incident occurred, all those people happy, having a good time. You’d see people greeting each other and hugging and laughing and everything. They’re there to enjoy a high school basketball game. And folks are showing up to the games with what I consider are mostly weapons of war. It’s just, it’s disgusting,” said Gibson County General Sessions Court Judge Mark Agee.

When we arrived at the Gibson County Courthouse on Monday morning, there appeared to already be a commotion outside of the court.

The family of the victims were upset they were not allowed in the courtroom.

Inside, five different people were called to the stand to give their testimony and give their account of what happened the night of the basketball game.

Pankey’s longtime girlfriend says she was told by Pankey there was an argument between him and Hardiman prior to meeting her near the concession stand.

She claims Hardiman was trying to get Pankey outside and that she tried to stop the two from arguing. The video of the shooting was played from different angles in front of the courtroom.

The state argues Hardiman entered the Humboldt High School gymnasium with a Glock .40-caliber with an extended magazine, fired it with intent to kill Pankey, and also killed Clifton and shot Cross.

“There ain’t nobody who would legally have a pistol that’ll hold 24 rounds. I don’t think a civilian has absolutely zero use for that. But that’s not my decision. If you go with a game sporting that kind of hardware, you are going prepared to kill even if you haven’t specifically intended to kill at that point. It’s only reason to walk around that kind of weapon,” Agee said.

The defense says although it is wrong for someone underage and on school property to have possession of a gun, Hardiman held one for self defense due to being a victim of a violent crime.

They believe Hardiman fired the gun in fear for his life because Pankey, who approached him, was friends with the guy who shot Hardiman back in August of 2020.

“The video does show that it does not indicate that the defendant approach Pankey. I don’t know what kind of words have been said between them, if any, but Pankey definitely approached him,” Agee said.

They argue not that any of the three people shot were excusable, but instead are focused on the degree or level of the shooting, and called it an “imperfect” self defense.

The state hopes to make a capital case against Hardiman. The case involving Hardiman is waiting to be presented to the Grand Jury.

Find updates on local crime here.

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