Accused Regal Cinemas killer now facing trial in York County Court
The co-defendant of a man accused of fatally shooting Andre White Jr. inside a theater at Regal Cinemas in West Manchester Township testified that he was already walking out of the business when he heard gunshots, then heard alleged killer Anu-Malik Johnson running up behind him.
"Go, bro, go!" Johnson allegedly said, according to co-defendant Jalen Bellaflores, who testified at Johnson's preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
At the close of the hearing, District Judge Keith Albright determined enough evidence exists for Johnson, 21, of no fixed address, to stand trial on his charges of homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, being a felon in illegal firearm possession and five counts of reckless endangerment.
His formal arraignment in York County Court is set for March 20. Chief deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy said Johnson's general homicide charge will be modified to first- and third-degree murder charges.
Johnson's attempted homicide and aggravated assault charges are for his second alleged victim, 22-year-old Luisa Torres.
Merely a bystander in the theater, Torres was shot by two stray bullets but survived, police said.
One bullet struck her in the right shoulder and another caused a grazing wound to her right cheek, West Manchester Township Detective Sgt. Sean Conway testified on Tuesday.
Investigators recovered a total of nine spent shell casings at the scene, all .40 caliber, according to Conway.
Shot 5 times: White, 22, of Carlisle, suffered five gunshot wounds while inside Theater 6 in Regal Cinemas' West Manchester Town Center location about 10:15 p.m. Dec. 2, Conway said.
Conway and Bellaflores were the only two people to testify at Johnson's preliminary hearing.
Bellaflores, 19, of York, originally was charged with homicide, but that offense was dropped. The York County District Attorney's Office has said that's because the evidence didn't support a homicide charge against him.
Bellaflores remains free on bail, charged with hindering the apprehension of a suspect, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to obstruct the administration of law.
He testified that he and Johnson went to the theater and said he had no idea Johnson was armed or that anything unusual would happen.
Bellaflores said Johnson and White saw each other in Theater 6 and that he heard them say "What's up" to each other in a "confrontational" manner.
"Just the way it sounded, it didn't sound right to me," Bellaflores said, adding his reaction was to leave the theater: "I walked out."
Heard gunfire: Bellaflores said that after leaving Theater 6, he heard gunshots and then, a few seconds later, heard someone running up behind him. It was Johnson, urging him to go, he said, adding he didn't know what Johnson had done or who had fired a gun.
"At that point I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do," he said.
Conway testified that there were eight people in the theater at the time of the shooting.
There was no testimony Tuesday about a possible motive in the case.
West Manchester Township Police Chief John Snyder has said Johnson and White knew each other prior to that night and that there was clearly animosity between them.
Snyder has described Johnson as "an extremely dangerous human being."
Asked whether Johnson is a member of a gang, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday has said, "We're putting those threads together."
Members of the U.S. Marshals Service's fugitive task force captured Johnson in New Jersey on Dec. 18, police have said.
Victim's girlfriend charged: Also charged in the case is the homicide victim's girlfriend, 18-year-old Kieara Aleysiah Martinez of York, who remains free on $50,000 bail.
Police said she took White's phone from the the crime scene and lied about it to investigators for days.
She told police she saw a call come in to White's phone through SnapChat immediately after White was gunned down and also admitted to altering information on White's phone, police allege.
She's charged with felony counts of hindering the apprehension of a suspect, obstructing the administration of law and tampering with evidence.
Conway said White's phone is currently being forensically analyzed.
2017 murder: Johnson has a connection to the June 27, 2017, murder of Elizabeth Vega-Tirado, 48, who was walking home from a York City corner store when she was fatally shot by a stray bullet that investigators say was meant for Johnson.
Leandro Pilier was 16 years old when he tried to shoot Johnson, who was in a moving car near the corner of West Princess Street and South Belvidere Avenue just before 3:45 p.m.
Pilier was charged as an adult and found guilty of third-degree murder in September 2018. He is currently serving a 15- to 30-year prison sentence.
Vega-Tirado was just a few feet from her door when she was shot while carrying home groceries. She was the mother of four sons.
In October 2018, Johnson pleaded guilty to felony drug dealing and was sentenced to nine to 23 months in York County Prison, court records state.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.