Arrest In Cheektowaga Murder

February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 9:46 AM EDT

By WKBW News

February 23, 2012 Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 9:46 AM EDT

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. ( WKBW ) A Cheektowaga man is behind bars, accused of killing a college student in May of 2011 in view of hundreds of people at a Town park.

With so many witnesses present, why did it take police so long to make the arrest?

Cheektowaga Police zeroed in on the suspect very early in the investigation, and then worked on it for eight months, with time consuming detail.

Police build their case with 21 detectives on the force working on the case at one time or another, interviewing hundreds of witnesses.

Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack told Eyewitness News, "sadly, not all of those witnesses were cooperative."

Zack added that because of that, it took eight months to make an arrest in this case.

19 year old Ira Watkins Jr. was gunned down at Cheektowaga Town Park on May 31st, where hundreds of people gathered for a water balloon fight that was promoted on Facebook.

Zack continued, "City gangs got wind of the event, and then they showed up. There was a confrontation between the two groups. Ira, who was not a gang member, but was familiar with some of the people there, tried to calm the confrontation down, and that's when the gunfire erupted and that is when he was hit."

The suspect, 18 year old Dontre Jones of Cheektowaga, was a person of interest from the very beginning. He has been charged with Second Degree Murder.

Chief Zack says building the case took time, "Parents who actually stood in the way of interviewing their children who witnessed this thing, that was very troubling, very frustrating."

"It seems like there are still people out there who are willing to accept a certain level of violence is just the fact of life."