Family reacts to arrest in child's hit-and-run death

CLEVELAND -- Israel Thornton would have turned six next Monday. But back in October, he was struck and killed by an SUV on his way to the bus stop. The driver hit him and raced on. Now, police believe they have him in custody.

Jerome Lee, 24, of Bedford, was charged with the crime. Lee is already imprisoned on fresh charges in an unrelated incident.

MORE: Arrest made in boy's hit-and-run death

"He left my nephew in the street to die, he knew he hit somebody," says Israel's aunt Celestine Williams. "You hit a bump in the road, you look back, you see a lifeless child there, you could have called 911. You kept going and got scared. And parked your truck somewhere."

Police had determined, based on a school bus camera in the area, that a tan or beige 2012 Kia Sorrento had run over the boy. For ten months they tried to track down which Kia Sorrento, and which driver was behind the wheel.

In the last few days, a tip came into Cleveland police that lead to the charges against Lee.

"I was like, yes! I was happy, my phone started blowing up," Williams told WKYC. "I am so relieved, and so, so, so happy."

Police referred all questions to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office who did not share details into what kind of information the tipster provided.

Still unclear is if police recovered the vehicle or were there any accomplices involved?

Jerome Lee will appear in court Wednesday morning.

Follow WKYC's Chris Tye on Twitter: @TVTye


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