Federal prison for 'armed and dangerous' York felon in gun, drug-trafficking case

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A York City man who was questioned about two city homicides and who had been suspected by police of involvement in several city shootings is now in federal prison.

Shanquay D. Ritter, 24, pleaded guilty Sept. 21 in Harrisburg's federal court to the felony of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug activity. In exchange for the plea his other charges were dismissed, including threatening a federal officer and counts of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine trafficking, court records state.

On Monday, U.S. Chief District Judge John E. Jones III sentenced Ritter to five years in federal prison, which was the minimum sentence allowed under the law, according to court records. The judge also said Ritter must undergo three years of supervised release, which is the federal version of probation.

Jones said Ritter's federal prison time must run consecutively to any York County prison time, records state.

Ritter's federal indictment states he threatened and tried to intimidate York City Police Detective Paul DeHart III in regard to the investigation into Ritter's alleged drug trafficking. As part of his detective duties, DeHart was serving as a task force officer with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Local case dropped: Ritter was committed to York County Prison in April 2019 on county probation violations and on a York County case in which he was charged with being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license and two counts of drug dealing.

All charges in the local criminal case were dismissed when Ritter appeared in York County Court on Thursday. Defense attorney George Margetas confirmed that's because the federal charges were filed based on the same allegations as the York County case.

York County President Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook sentenced Ritter for probation violations in his felony drug-dealing and flight to avoid apprehension cases, records state — to be served consecutively to his federal time.

York City Police said they want to question Shanquay Ritter regarding a homicide in the 100 block of East Maple Street that happened just after 5 p.m. April 24, 2018.

With credit for the 678 days he's already spent locked up, Ritter will have six months of time to serve in York County Prison after he's released from federal custody, Margetas said.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Ritter to a longer prison term for violating his probation, the defense attorney said.

"While we understand why the commonwealth asked for more jail time, we think the (judge) did the right thing in sentencing Mr. Ritter the way she did," Margetas said.

Senior deputy prosecutor Lewis Reagan said he had argued that Ritter should serve more prison time for his two probation violations, in part because he will be getting credit in his federal case for prison time he's already served.

Childhood issues: Ritter's federal attorney, Petra Gross, filed a sentencing memorandum asking that he receive the minimum sentence possible. She noted that when Ritter was a child, his father was in and out of prison and abused cocaine.

"Mr. Ritter's exposure to drugs, weapons and violence at a young age had a clear impact on his adult life," Gross wrote.

Ritter suffered from a lack of parental supervision and started smoking marijuana at age 9, the memorandum states. By 13, he was drinking daily — and that's also the age he became involved in the criminal justice system, according to the memorandum.

Two of Ritter's friends were victims of homicide — the first when Ritter was 12, the second four years later, the memorandum states.

Ritter himself now has two young children, the filing states. Gross did not return a message seeking comment.

Chaotic chase: In 2018, Ritter was a fugitive from justice who was captured after a chaotic vehicle chase through morning rush-hour traffic.

He eventually was forced to abandon his failing vehicle and take off on foot, running through mud, creeks and a swampy area to get away on Aug. 15, 2018, police have said.

Shanquay D. Ritter

He was captured in a marshy area while trying to climb over a fence along Interstate 83 near the border of Springettsbury and Spring Garden townships, court documents state.

He was wanted because he cut off the GPS-monitoring ankle cuff he was required to wear as a condition of bail on an earlier criminal case, according to court documents.

'Armed and dangerous': York City Police — who had described Ritter as armed and dangerous — announced in July 2018 that they were looking to arrest Ritter and five others with outstanding warrants as part of a general crackdown on street violence.

That was in response to six people being shot in three separate incidents in York City, police said at the time.

Police have previously said they wanted to question Ritter about the Aug. 21, 2017, homicide of Jamere Cherry, 28, and the April 24, 2018, homicide of Nylik Roger Moore, 18, of North York.

He wasn't charged in either shooting.

Dawn Clark, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg, has said Ritter's arrest was part of the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, in which federal officials partner with local police to target violent criminals.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.