Crime

Gang members arrested after Lakewood shooting tied to high-profile cases, prosecutors say

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that Amancio Resan Tolbert agreed to help authorities in exchange for having charges against him dismissed in connection with robberies on Halloween 2012 in Tacoma.

Charges against Tolbert and LeShawn Alexander Jr. were dropped “because it became clear they were not culpable” in the robberies, Pierce County deputy prosecutor Greg Greer said via email Thursday.

Greer said he subpoenaed Tolbert and Alexander during the trial of two others charged in the robberies, called them as witnesses and they were “very hostile.”

“They nonetheless were labeled ‘snitches,’ (according to law enforcement) because of the perception that they had cooperated,” Greer wrote.

In fact, Tolbert was so uncooperative that he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 30 days in jail, court records show.

Barbara Corey, the attorney for Zyion Houston-Sconiers, one of the teenagers convicted of the Halloween robberies, wrote in court records concerning Tolbert:

“He testified that he had been drinking vodka and smoking marijuana that evening, so much so that he did not recall the events of that night. He was steadfast in this testimony although he was threatened with perjury charges.”

Tolbert, 19, and Alexander, 18, are now in jail on charges related to a Lakewood shooting Oct. 16, in which no one was hurt. They pleaded not guilty, and are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

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Two well-known street gang members arrested after a shootout Friday in Lakewood have ties to a series of high-profile Tacoma crimes, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

The two, Amancio Resan Tolbert, 19, and Leshawn Ayatta Alexander Jr., 18, were linked to a robbery on Halloween 2012 and to two fatal shootings this year, including one in which an innocent teen was killed outside a Tacoma convenience store.

In the most recent case, Tolbert and Alexander pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree assault, drive-by shooting and unlawful gun possession.

Prosecutors allege the pair took part in a shooting at a gas station in the 8300 block of Tacoma Mall Boulevard.

Attorney Walter O. Peale III said Tuesday that he had just been assigned to defend Alexander, and declined to comment. Tolbert’s lawyer, Paula Tuckfield Olson, was not immediately reachable.

In charging papers, prosecutors note Tolbert and Alexander are connected in various ways to several prominent local cases.

“They used to be Hilltop Crip gang members but are believed to be ‘snitches’ in the much publicized ‘Halloween Robbery’ case,” court records state.

In that case, a group of teenagers robbed trick-or-treaters and a few adults of candy, cellphones and a Halloween mask in a series of holdups around Tacoma in 2012.

Two teens — Treson Roberts, who was 16 at the time, and Zyion Houston-Sconiers, who was 17 — were convicted in the robberies and sentenced to prison for 26 years and 31 years, respectively.

According to charging papers in multiple cases:

When a police dog tracked the two to a car in the area, Tolbert was with them, and initially charged. The case against him later was dismissed when he agreed to help authorities.

A juvenile was in the car with the others. His age matches Alexander’s and he is identified by the initials L.A.

After the Halloween robberies, prosecutors allege, Alexander and Tolbert switched allegiances and joined the Knoccout Crips.

They apparently were the intended victims of a drive-by shooting May 1, 2015, that instead killed 19-year-old Brandon Morris.

Morris, who had no gang affiliations, was shot as he stood outside a convenience store at South 45th Street and South Puget Sound Avenue. He had gone to the store with friends to get candy.

Prosecutors charged six people in connection to the shooting, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.

Ten days after Morris’s death, Tolbert’s brother was killed in a gang-related shooting, prosecutors said.

Jatarius Tolbert, 17, died near South 93rd and Hosmer Streets when an acquaintance mistakenly shot him while firing at someone else, prosecutors allege.

The group with Tolbert said a car that drove past was similar to one driven by someone he had been having trouble with. Treveon Reed, 17, fired at the car, and instead hit Tolbert, prosecutors said.

The teen pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and awaits trial.

Court records don’t explain what prompted the shootout Friday in Lakewood.

Surveillance footage reportedly shows a man, believed to be Alexander, and another man leaving the gas station and running in different directions. The two fire four to six shots at each other. No one was injured.

Police got a description of the cars the two left in, and stopped two vehicles in the area soon after and arrested those inside.

Alexander was in the back of an SUV driven by Amancio Tolbert. The front seat passenger, Randy Antonio Smith, 18, was charged with and pleaded not guilty to drive-by shooting and first-degree assault.

Two guns were found in the car, police said.

The man accused of shooting at Alexander, 21-year-old Atere Norman, was found by himself in the second car and with a firearm, police said. He was charged with and pleaded not guilty to unlawful gun possession.

Norman is a self-proclaimed member of the Nutty Blocc Crip gang, and has a prior conviction for residential burglary, prosecutors said.

Tolbert has a prior conviction for second-degree assault with a firearm; Alexander has a prior conviction for second-degree robbery.

In connection with Friday’s shooting, Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set Norman’s bail at $75,000, Smith’s at $100,000, and Tolbert’s and Alexander’s at $500,000 each.

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