Hanover Police: Man who fatally struck Dakota, 4, was on heroin, cocaine

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Four-year-old Dakota Wright was fatally struck by a hit-and-run van outside her Hanover home on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of GoFundMe.com)

Although an arrest in the fatal hit-and-run of 4-year-old Dakota Wright didn't happen for nearly two years, court documents reveal Hanover Police had identified the alleged driver that very night.

Tony Brent Shower Jr. had been using heroin and crack-cocaine all day, making trips to Maryland and back to Hanover to replenish his drug supply when it ran out, according to charging documents filed by lead Hanover Detective Jared Auman.

Auman and other investigators gathered physical evidence found in the grille of the white utility van that Shower was allegedly driving when it struck Dakota in the 200 block of Princess Street in Hanover on Nov. 22, 2016, and fled the scene, documents state. 

They conducted repeated interviews with Shower, as well as with witnesses, before arresting Shower on Thursday Nov. 15, according to police.

Shower, 34, of the 100 block of West Jackson Street in York City, is now in York County Prison on $100,000 bail, charged with accidents involving death or personal injury/hit-and-run, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

The hit-and-run charge is a second-degree felony.

Dakota had just arrived home with an adult and was crossing the street to her home when she was struck by the white utility van with a ladder rack at about 7:10 p.m., police have said. Police broadcast a description of the hit-and-run van.

Stopped 18 minutes later: Two miles away and 18 minutes later, a Penn Township police officer pulled over a van that matched the description, in which Shower was the sole passenger and a man identified by police as "SG" was driving, according to charging documents.

Tony Shower Jr. in an August 2018 mugshot.

There was insufficient evidence to hold the men at the time, police said, and they were eventually released.

Later that night, West Manheim Township Police also stopped the van. This time, SG — who owns it — was alone. Officer Shawn Ricketts was able to spot several hairs in the grille and headlight area of the van, charging documents state.

At that point, the van was secured and a search warrant was obtained to examine it more closely.

Investigators found damage to the front end consistent with the hit-and-run that killed Dakota, according to police.

SG told police that Shower dropped him off at a local restaurant about a mile from where Dakota was killed, then headed off to buy more drugs, driving in the general direction of Princess Street in Hanover, documents state.

Changing versions? Shower initially told investigators he didn't know anything about the hit-and-run, and that he didn't drive the van.

He later admitted he sometimes drove the van, and also admitted he and SG were driving to Baltimore and back that day to purchase more heroin and crack when they ran out, according to charging documents.

Shower then told police that SG was driving and struck what Shower thought was an animal, documents state. He later modified that statement as well, police allege, by saying he heard a "thud" while SG was driving and that SG said he'd just struck a child.

But a witness to the fatal crash told police the driver was only one person in the van, and that the driver resembled Shower — not SG, according to police. SG also confirmed it was Shower who was driving, police said.

Shower's driver's license has been suspended since 2002, documents state.

More:Hanover Police struggle to find hit-and-run driver who killed Dakota

More:Hanover mother mourns 4-year-old, urges hit-run driver to surrender

No conscience: Dakota's mother, Ginger Wright, discussed her grief on social media in the days and weeks after her daughter was killed.

Dakota Wright, 4, was fatally struck by a hit-and-run utility van outside her Hanover home on Nov. 22, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Ginger Wright and Facebook)

"How the driver can live with the guilt is beyond me. It was our daughter that got hit and killed, and yet the driver doesn't have a conscience," she wrote in a public post on Facebook. "I hate not knowing who did this and why they just kept driving. ... This isn't something we will just get over, not now, not ever! We want justice for our baby girl!"

Wright has described "Koda" as a "beautiful, spunky, sweet, caring baby" and said her daughter's death left her heartbroken.

On Thursday, Wright expressed gratitude on her Facebook page to police and to everyone involved in the case.

"We are so very thankful to you all," she wrote.

Shower does not have a listed attorney. His preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for 1 p.m. Dec. 21 before District Judge Dwayne Dubs, according to court records.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.