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Fatal shootout followed plan to ambush pot deal, investigators say

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

James Brown Jr. worked both sides of the plan last year, according to police: the pot deal and the robbery of the deal, which erupted into gunfire and left two people dead.

Investigators say Brown himself was shot during the ambush.

Now, he and another man are jailed and charged as suspects in the case.

James H. Brown Jr.

Brown, 35, and Kyree Dickson, 29, of Conewago Township, each face counts of second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit both. Brown, of York City, was arraigned into the York County Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday after his case advanced out of a district court. Dickson was arraigned in March.

Investigators accused Brown of orchestrating a meet to purchase marijuana as well as a plan to rob the meet. In the end, one of the dealers, Miguel Roman, and one of the robbers, Jordan Simpson, were killed in a shootout around 11:10 p.m. April 13, 2022.

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Brown had allegedly messaged Roman and another person so he could purchase what York City Police described as a large quantity of pot from them.

Roman, 30, of York City, arranged the sale by setting the time and having the other person bring the drugs. That other person, who drove an SUV to the deal, wasn’t identified in charging documents.

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Brown met Roman at a home in the 500 block of West Market Street. They joined the SUV driver, who was parked out front. Brown took the front passenger seat. Roman sat behind him, according to police.

Three men then ran up to the SUV, at least two of them armed, police said.

Next came a barrage of gunfire.

About an hour and a half earlier, police said, phone records indicated that Brown, Dickson and Simpson apparently first met up at a beauty shop where Simpson worked at Philadelphia and Pine streets.

Police said the three were associates who were together at different times.

Time passed, and Simpson, 27, of Springettsbury Township, showed up on West Clark Avenue, about a block north of the deal and 10 minutes before it started. Dickson and another man, listed as an “unknown male” in charging documents, met him there, police said, citing security video from the area.

Brown then allegedly pulled a rented car into a nearby parking lot, and the three men walked over to join him in the lot before he walked down to the buy on Market Street, charging documents show.

Police also pointed to phone records to allege that Brown was on the phone with Simpson shortly before he reached the parking lot.

As Brown allegedly sat in the SUV with Roman and the driver, Simpson, Dickson and the third man rushed up to it. Investigators said Simpson took the driver’s side; Dickson and the other man surrounded the passenger side.

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Security video showed Simpson firing at least once into the driver’s side door, according to charging documents. The driver apparently wasn’t shot.

The SUV driver later told police that's when the men — wearing masks — ran up to the vehicle. One of them pointed a gun at Roman and told him, “Don’t move,” right before guns started firing, the driver told police.

Police said multiple shots went off from the passenger side, and Roman was shot. Dickson was allegedly seen on security video holding a gun up toward the rear passenger door.

The SUV driver climbed out of the vehicle and returned fire, shooting and killing Simpson, police said.

The driver also fired at the other men as they ran off, according to what investigators were told. Brown apparently left the SUV during the commotion. The driver then fled in the SUV and drove Roman to UPMC Memorial Hospital as police responded to a call about the shooting.

Minutes into the aftermath, phone records show, Brown called Simpson and Dickson and got no answer. Brown also allegedly called Roman at some point and left a message, saying he had been shot, had left the buy, and wanted to know if Roman was OK, according to charging documents.

Kyree Dickson

Dickson allegedly went back to the shop at Philadelphia and Pine streets, police said, pointing to phone records. He was then allegedly seen about an hour later at a gas station on North George Street.

Brown was later driven in his car to UPMC Memorial to be treated for a gunshot wound to his lower back, police said.

His wife, according to charging documents, messaged Simpson about four hours after the shooting, saying “Bud” wanted to check on him. Police indicated “Bud” was a nickname for Brown.

Police said a witness helped identify Dickson and Simpson on security video.

Autopsies concluded both Simpson and Roman died from gunshot wounds to their heads.

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Amid the investigation, Brown and Dickson were initially charged in November, about seven months after the shooting, according to the charging documents.

But they apparently weren’t arrested right away.

Brown was charged again in January with aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment.

Police had responded to a report alleging domestic violence that had started as an argument over the homicide case against him at his home along Madison Avenue, further charging documents show.

Both he and Dickson are now in custody without bail at York County Prison, court documents show.

Brown's next court date is scheduled for July 11. Dickson is due to appear for a hearing May 24.

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