'I could just tell by his eyes,' witness testifies in Penn Park shooting

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

The gunman wore a mask as he fired a 9mm handgun across South Pershing Avenue as 17-year-old Malaki Beady walked through Penn Park with two other teens the morning of March 23.

Eight bullets blasted into the park, one striking Beady in the head, killing him around 11 a.m. The other two teens were apparently unscathed, according to police. They had left William Penn Senior High School earlier that day, some time ahead of a planned early dismissal for the school system.

A memorial of candles, balloons, photos and messages of love are displayed for Malaki Beady, 17, at Penn Park in York City, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Beady was shot and killed at the park on Wednesday. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Though the killer wore a ski mask over his face, one of the teens at the scene said he recognized him and helped York City Police investigators come up with a name: Javion Roman.

“I could just tell by his eyes,” the 15-year-old witness told a judge Monday at Roman's preliminary hearing. The York Dispatch is not publishing the teen’s name because he’s a minor.

More:Amid surge in violent crime, York tries to get young people back in school

More:Two dead in apparent murder-suicide: Coroner

More:The future of Mayor Michael Helfrich will soon go before a judge

Roman, 17, of York City, is currently charged with criminal homicide. Additional charges of carrying a firearm without a license, possession of a firearm by a minor and two counts of reckless endangerment were added Monday.

Roman was arrested about two days after the shooting.

Video from security cameras tracked Roman as he left his home in the 200 block of South Newberry Street and walked toward  Penn Park the day Beady was shot, York City Police Sgt. Kyle Hower testified. The detective said one video shows Roman carrying an object, then drops it, picks it back up and runs. But he couldn’t say whether that object was a gun.

Javion Roman

Audio from a camera also recorded the sound of eight gunshots. Video of the shooting, though, was not recorded.

“I have videos of the defendant walking in the area,” Hower said. “We don’t have any of the actual shooting.”

Another video, he said, shows Roman tossing a black sweatshirt in the area of College Avenue, and it was recovered near Codorus Creek. No guns were found, though.

Interested in what you're reading? Consider subscribing to The York Dispatch.

Eight 9mm shell casings were picked up in an area across the street from the park, Hower said. He estimated Roman was 20 to 25 feet away from Beady when the teen was shot.

The 15-year-old witness identified Roman as the shooter in court, saying he had seen him before at school. After the shooting, he said he helped police come up with Roman's identity through an Instagram account.

Hower said the account was deleted shortly after the shooting, but detectives were able to preserve it. As evidence, he said the witness identified Roman through an Instagram image, though the account was under a street name.

So far, proving the account was Roman’s is more of an educated guess, Hower said, and investigators are working to secure a search warrant to investigate it further.

More:Robots could soon help brew your coffee at Panera Bread

More:Filing your taxes soon? Here’s how COVID-19 stimulus could affect what you owe

More:What is Joe Paterno's legacy at Penn State? New ESPN film leaves question unanswered

Hower also alleged that when interviewed by police, Roman said he was home sleeping when Beady was shot. Hower also said the boy’s family moved to Virginia shortly after the shooting.

When asked by Roman’s attorney, William Graff Jr., Hower said he wasn’t aware   whether Roman was a victim of bullying. He said Roman hadn’t been to school in a few months.

Graff asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing investigators had a lot of speculation but insufficient evidence. He said no video shows the shooting, the gun hasn’t been found, and a witness identified Roman only by his eyes.

“I ask you to dismiss the case as it is,” Graff said.

Assistant District Attorney David Maisch disagreed, noting there was a second witness in the case. He also pointed to the video showing Roman’s whereabouts and ditching his sweatshirt, as well as deleting his Instagram account.

Judge Nancy Edie sided with Maisch and ordered the case to move forward into the Common Pleas court system. She set May 25 as the date for Roman’s formal arraignment.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.