Videos, car's Bluetooth used to connect suspect to fatal shooting: police
Investigators relied largely on security cameras attached to local homes to piece together the final moments of Shaheim Carr's life.
On the video, prosecutors said, Carr is seen walking down the steps of his front stoop and heading onto the sidewalk along West Philadelphia Street one July morning in York City.
The video shows Carr startling, then backpedaling a couple of steps and breaking into a run. He stumbles, falls and then recovers, dashing into a nearby breezeway.
Three masked and hooded men chase after him — one of them Jaquez Brown, prosecutors allege — and then are seen racing across the street as they follow Carr into the breezeway, firing their guns. One, wearing a black Adidas tracksuit, works to load his gun with a drum magazine.
A few moments later, video shows the men tearing out of the breezeway, one of them carrying a bag, and running back across the street, beating a wave of traffic coming their way.
The men then pile into a gold Ford Fusion and flee the scene, investigators said.
The 27-year-old Carr was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds a few minutes later when police responded to the shooting. Nearly 100 bullets were fired at the scene, according to police.
Ultimately, prosecutors say the video clips helped police track the gold car’s route as it wound through the city and into Spring Garden Township. From there, the car dropped off the man in the tracksuit at Norway and East Maple streets; he then cut through a few yards while walking toward a home in the 600 block of Wheatlyn Drive.
Investigators used the videos, the car, the car’s Bluetooth system and the tracksuit to identify and arrest Jaquez Brown, 27, a few days later.
“We were able to track it pretty much in real time the whole way down,” said York City Police Detective Daniel Craven. “We have its exact path.”
Craven, under questioning by Brown's attorney Heather Reiner, said investigators don’t have physical evidence now — such as DNA or gunshot residue — nor any certainty that they found the weapons used nor eyewitness identification to connect Brown to the shooting.
Brown appeared before District Judge Joel Toluba on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing in conjunction with a criminal homicide charge in Carr’s death.
Security video showing the shooting was played as Craven walked through the case from the stand. Three men are shown chasing Carr into the breezeway. A fourth, Craven said, opened fire from the car briefly and then hopped back in.
He said nearly 100 shell casings of 9 mm and 40-caliber bullets were collected from the scene.
Investigators have not said how many times Carr was shot.
As detectives tracked video of the man in the Adidas track suit to the Wheatlyn Drive home, they learned Brown was staying with a person in an apartment there. Craven pointed to several photos and screenshots that were collected of Brown wearing a black tracksuit.
A couple were shown from video conferences with York County Prison inmates. One shows him apparently on the porch of the Wheatlyn Drive address, investigators said. Another shows him holding a gun in his left hand and pointing it into some woods several days before the shooting.
Craven alleged that Brown changed clothes after returning to the house and went to a local hotel. He pointed to another still shot from the hotel’s parking lot, taken nearly an hour after the homicide.
When police later searched Brown’s apartment, Craven said, they found drum magazines and extended magazines, similar to what was used in the shooting.
Under questioning by Reiner, Craven said he didn’t believe the tracksuit was recovered during the search.
He also said ballistic and other forensic tests are still underway, and he wasn’t able to say if the magazines taken from the apartment were used in the shooting.
“I couldn’t tell you at this time if we have murder weapons or not,” he said.
The gold Ford, he said, was reported stolen in May. Some time after the shooting, police found it parked at an apartment complex in Springettsbury Township.
Investigators couldn’t get physical evidence from it.
“The vehicle itself was doused in bleach. The interior,” Craven said. “It was sanitized.”
However, detectives were able to pull what he described as the car’s computer infotainment center. Craven said a search showed Brown’s phone was among phones that had apparently synced to the computer via Bluetooth connections.
“We have all the phones that were associated in that car during that time frame,” he said.
Reiner argued police and prosecutors didn’t make a solid enough case for advancing Brown into the trial court system. She pointed to the lack of physical evidence, the reliance on the tracksuit as a common outfit worn by many people, and the lack of eyewitness descriptions.
“Just an average description of a Black male whose face is covered,” Reiner said.
Lewis Reagan, chief deputy district attorney, disagreed, saying the tracksuit taken with the other evidence gathered in the case was enough to meet the burden for holding the case over for trial.
Judge Toluba agreed and ordered Brown’s case to move into the Court of Common Pleas. He scheduled the formal arraignment there for Oct. 3.
No other suspects have yet been arrested in the shooting.
Brown’s arrest came five months after he was released from York County Prison, exonerated of murder in a separate case from a decade ago.
A teenager at the time, Brown was found guilty in 2013 of shooting and killing a man, Tony Wasilewski, during a dispute over a mobile phone in the 300 block of East Princess Street. Brown was then sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
In between the acquittal and his arrest in July, Brown was also charged in April with felony counts of intimidating a witness and conspiracy in another separate case.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.