BEEVILLE – Police arrested a 17-year-old suspect Friday morning and charged him with murder in connection with the shooting death of Jacob Cole Thompson.

Police Chief Robert J. Bridge said officers arrested the suspect, Damian Cruz, 17, at 10:21 a.m. Friday, almost a week after Thompson’s body was found near tennis courts and a day care center at the Capehart Properties.

According to the chief, Cruz also was charged with tampering with evidence.

“After a time-consuming investigation of the event, we sought an arrest warrant,” Bridge said Friday afternoon. “We have arrested Damian Cruz.”

The chief said officers knew where the suspect would be Friday morning, at Thompson’s funeral service. Cruz was arrested outside of First United Methodist Church in the 100 block of East Cleveland Street.

One of the investigators, Sgt. Josh Meakins, arrived with a murder warrant signed minutes earlier by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Susana Contreras, and officers moved in to make the arrest.

Cruz is believed to have fired the shot that killed Thompson during an incident that occurred at about 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9.

The murder charge is a first degree felony. If convicted, Cruz could be sentenced to up to 99 years or life in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison unit.

The tampering with evidence charge is a second degree felony, punishable by a prison term of up to 20 years.

Each of the two charges carries a possible $10,000 fine.

Bridge said the incident remains under investigation.

The chief has urged anyone who has information that could be of value in the ongoing investigation to contact the Beeville Police Department at 361-358-8100 or call Coastal Bend Crime Stoppers at 361-362-0206.

Information reported to the Crime Stoppers hotline could result in a reward of up to $1,000 if the tip results in an arrest.

Witnesses who contact Crime Stoppers do not have to give their names to collect a cash reward.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.