The murder of 13 year-old Jason Rivera, fatally shot on Tuesday evening, Feb. 15, remains unsolved, with no word from prosecutors or police on possible motives or suspects.

Police responding to reports of gunfire at about 9 p.m. that evening found Rivera in an apartment building parking lot near 3rd and Vine streets in South Lebanon Township. He had been shot multiple times.

Attempts to save the boy were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at Hershey Medical Center.

In the days following the murder, Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said the shooting was not a random act, but offered no other details.

Rivera’s residence was not publicly disclosed, but unidentified relatives appearing at a press conference a few days after the murder said he was a 7th grader at Lebanon Middle School, and that there were no family members nearby when he was shot, suggesting that the boy was not near his home.

Prosecutors and police have never said whether suspects or a motive have been identified.

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Reached by phone on Monday, Nov. 14, South Lebanon police Chief Kenneth Zimmerman told LebTown that he had no update on the investigation.

While Zimmerman confirmed that the shooting is still not believed to be random, he would not say whether Rivera was the intended target or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hess Graf told LebTown on Nov. 14 that, “unfortunately, nothing new/substantial has come to light in recent months. Given the number of shots fired, we still believe the shooter intended to kill someone and took every effort to effectuate that intent. A number of theories are still active as to whether the child was the intended target versus whether the target was someone else and the child was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Until a charge is filed, we cannot say which theory is accurate.”

As to what Rivera was doing at the apartment building, Hess Graf told LebTown that “Jason, the child killed, was going to a vehicle in a parking lot. His purpose dealt with an adult who owned the vehicle. I cannot comment any further as to the why given the investigation.”

Carmen Martinez, Jason’s grandmother, started a GoFundMe campaign shortly after Jason’s death. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Undated photo of Jason Rivera from GoFundMe page.

Help police solve Jason’s murder

Anyone having information on Jason Rivera’s murder is asked to contact:

  • South Lebanon Township police (717-272-2054)
  • Lebanon County District Attorney (717-228-4412)
  • Lebanon County Detective Bureau (717-228-4403)
  • Lebanon County Crimestoppers (717-270-9800)
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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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