PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Peoria police are investigating after a 17-year-old was stabbed to death at a Circle K early Thursday morning. 

Police say at about 1:45 a.m. Elijah Al-Amin was inside the store when the suspect, 27-year-old Michael Adams came up behind him and stabbed him.

WATCH: Teen stabbed over "rap music"

Peoria police found Elijah outside of the store, lying face down by the fuel pumps. 

According to court documents, Adams stabbed the victim on the right side of his neck. Adams fled the area following the incident. 

[RAW VIDEO: Michael Adams' initial court appearance]

Elijah was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead at 2:05 a.m. 

Officers found Adams walking near the crime scene. An officer noticed that he had a pocket knife and had blood on his left forearm, left hand and foot. Adams was later arrested after he admitted to officers he was involved in the stabbing. 

During questioning, Adams told officers Elijah "did not do anything to threaten him."

Adams admitted that he heard the victim was listening to "rap music in this parking lot."

Areanna Ivery, who worked with Elijah at Taco Bell for a year, said she and Elijah bonded over his passion for rap. 

“He talked about rap music all the time. He loved rap artists," she said. "He just always said that rap artists spoke to him, that [rap] just gave him a sense of purpose, that he went through a lot of the things that [the artists] went through."

It was that love of rap that led to his death.

According to court documents, Adams yelled at detectives and stated that  "rap music made him feel unsafe because in the past, he was attacked by people who listened to that music genre."

Adams told detectives he "needed to be proactive than reactive and protect himself and the community from the victim." 

Adams was later booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail with a count of first-degree murder. 

The murder happened just two days after Adams was released from prison.

His attorney, Jacie Cotterell, told the judge during his initial court appearance on the murder charge that Adams has a history of mental illness but the Arizona Department of Corrections released him with no medication and without a courtesy ride to get access to mental health services, even though the department knew he was on mental health probation.

"They released him to the streets with no holdover meds, no way to care for himself," Cotterell said. 

"This is a disabled person," she said. "And he’s been released into the world, and left to fend for himself. And two days later, this is where we are."

ADC said Adams wasn't designated as seriously mentally ill and officers took him from Yuma to Maricopa County. ADC said after that, he wasn't in the department's custody and "had no further legal authority over him."

Cotterell said Adams needs to be treated for his illness, not sentenced to prison.

She wants to see more resources and psychiatric help put in place for inmates while they're behind bars, as well as policy changes.

“I believe that this crime was preventable," she said. "Policy is all well and good, but when policy fails, I think a reasonable person and reasonable people would agree policy needs to change."

As for Elijah, Ivery said he had big dreams.

"I just wish, if I could talk to him one more time, I’d say 'Dude, go follow those dreams that you wanted.' Everyone deserves that," she said.

Elijah was a student at Apollo High School.


We were saddened to hear the heartbreaking news about Elijah," a Glendale Union High School District spokeswoman said Friday evening. "On behalf of the district and Apollo High School, we extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends."

Adams' bond was set at $1 million cash-only.

The full statement from ADC can be read below.

By law, Inmate Adams was released from ADC custody on July 2 on an absolute discharge, after completing his prison sentence. Arizona and/or federal privacy laws preclude the Department from disclosing specific confidential medical information. Prior to his release, Inmate Adams was provided contact information for services in the community such as continuing care, housing, welfare as well as other community resources. He was not designated seriously mentally ill (SMI).

Upon release, he was provided transportation from ASPC-Yuma to Maricopa County, after which he was no longer under the Department’s legal jurisdiction and the Department had no further legal authority over him.

The tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions.


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