Erie, Pa. (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Police have arrested a suspect in a fatal shooting that happened in broad daylight on Friday in downtown Erie.
Early Friday afternoon, Erie Police were called to East 17th and French streets. When emergency crews arrived on the scene, they found 40-year-old Jeffery Johnson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, the incident allegedly stems from the suspect and victim seeing each other while they were getting their checks from a staffing agency.
The Erie Police Database revealed the victim and suspect were involved in a past aggravated assault case, in which the suspect in this case — identified by police as Defonta Butler — was the victim in that case.
The affidavit states the victim took a bus from the staffing agency and arrived at Dee’s Cigar Shop on State Street to cash his check early Friday afternoon. Johnson also texted his girlfriend that he saw Butler while he was getting his check, according to police.
The incident was initially reported as a possible drive-by shooting.
On Sept. 22 at 11:47 a.m., Johnson was fatally shot in the 10 block of East 17th Street in the City of Erie. He was walking on the sidewalk when the driver of a red Ford Escape got out of the vehicle and fired eight rounds from a firearm at him.
In surveillance footage, a Ford Escape is seen in multiple videos approaching the scene from 18th and State. The victim was seen entering Dee’s Cigar Shop on State Street seconds before the Ford Escape was seen passing through the area.
The affidavit details the SUV then headed northbound through the 1700 block of State Street and was seen shortly after in the 1600 block of French Street. From French, the SUV turned westbound then pulled behind the businesses that border State Street near Dee’s Cigar Shop.
The SUV then turned around in the parking lot, and pulled back onto East 17th Street, facing eastbound. The SUV pulled up to the curb and parked behind some parked cars. It remained in that spot until the victim was seen walking eastbound on East 17th Street.
That’s when the SUV pulled out from its parked position, driving eastbound, and pulled in front of the line of cars and parked again.
As the victim was approaching, the driver’s side door of the SUV could be seen opening on surveillance video. Then the driver exited the SUV, raised his right arm, and walked around the back of the vehicle as the victim was attempting to flee.
The victim fell to the ground as he was running away, and the driver got back into the Ford Escape and fled southbound on French Street.
Johnson received aid from bystanders until police arrived. He was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.
Police were able to track the Ford Escape from French Street to the area of East 21st and Ash streets.
After learning of the connection between the victim and suspect from the past aggravated assault case, police were able to find an address for Butler.
As police arrived at the location, the red Ford Escape seen in the surveillance video was also seen at the residence. Police confirmed with the vehicle’s owner that Butler had been using the vehicle and that he lived there.
Patrol officers then set a soft perimeter around the home in the 1100 block of Pennsylvania Ave. in Erie. Butler reportedly spent around 2.5 hours at the home before leaving in a different colored sweatshirt than he was seen arriving in. Police noted he was wearing the same colored sweatshirt in the surveillance video from the fatal shooting scene as he was when he arrived at his home about 10 minutes after the fatal shooting.
The affidavit reports the suspect was positively identified as Defonta “Tay” Lavon Dashon Butler, 30. He is prohibited from having a concealed carry permit as a convicted felon, and police are alleging that he concealed the weapon in the Ford Escape prior to the fatal shooting.
A search warrant was conducted on the suspect’s home, where police recovered a Taurus G3C 9mm pistol from the basement. The pistol had an empty magazine and two loaded magazines with it in a separate bag.
Police report the pistol matches the caliber of the spent shell casings from the scene of the homicide.
An arrested warrant was issued for Butler, and he was arrested in Meadville on Friday. Police have not given additional details on his arrest at this time.