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High-tech ballistics tie 3 gang members to string of shootings

June 20, 2016
Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee

High-powered ballistic technology appears to be central in a new criminal case involving three men tied to a Milwaukee street gang who have been charged in a string of shootings dating to last summer, including one homicide and a shootout on the Marquette Interchange in December.

Authorities used casings to help connect Martez D. Maclin-Dyson, 23; Lance L. Lewis, 24; and Corey A. Campbell, 24, to the shootings, according to a criminal complaint released Monday.

Each casing has microscopic marks etched on it from the gun. Like fingerprints, those marks are unique to the gun that fired it.

Investigators can feed images of casings into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN, and use software to comb through the network to find probable matches to casings recovered at other crime scenes.

So far, prosecutors have charged only Maclin-Dyson with first-degree reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of Tony Vance on Nov. 28. One person said Maclin-Dyson had threatened Vance, known as Tone, in the fall of 2014, saying, "Tell Tone not to play with my money, or I'm gonna be on his (expletive)," the complaint says.

An informant also told police Maclin-Dyson admitted to shooting Vance, then laughed and said "this is probably like my fifth body this year," according to the complaint.

Police say the three men and Jerome Johnson — who already faces charges in the I-43 shootout — are believed to be members or associates of the Brothers of the Struggle street gang.

Even before the shooting reports, Maclin-Dyson apparently had the attention of police.

On July 2, investigators from the West Allis police, Milwaukee police, High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office searched his residence in the 3200 block of N. 21st St. About a month after the raid, Maclin-Dyson was charged with heroin and cocaine possession.

Three guns

Just weeks after the search of Maclin-Dyson's residence, ShotSpotter alerted police to 16 gunshots fired in the same block. ShotSpotter consists of a series of sensors that captures the sound of gunfire and pinpoints its location.

While checking for vehicles that might have been hit by gunfire, police towed a car owned by Maclin-Dyson, the complaint says. Officers found heroin and Ecstasy inside the car and a 9mm shell casing under the hood. Fingerprints matching Maclin-Dyson and Lewis were found in the car, which had no damage from gunfire.

Officers found 18 fired casings on the street. Ballistic analysts determined five different guns had been used.

Three of those guns became key to the current investigation: Gun A, a 9mm responsible for three of the casings; Gun B, a 45-caliber responsible for another three casings; and Gun C, a 9mm that had fired at least one casing on the street and one found under the hood of the car.

■ Gun A, determined to be a Hi-Point 9mm, was found after a traffic stop Oct. 29. A known Brothers of the Struggle gang member, identified in the complaint only as "Gunz," ran from the car and police found the gun after it was tossed or dropped during the chase.

■ Gun B was used to kill Vance on Nov. 28. It also was fired during several other shootings in November.

■ Gun C was found in a hotel room on Dec. 12. Lewis admitted to having been in the room moments before police found the weapon, the complaint says.

Two shootings

On Nov. 6, ShotSpotter picked up gunfire in the 2900 block of N. 14th St. Police found three .45-caliber shell casings and one 9mm shell casing. No witnesses were outside and no one came to the door to talk to police.

But a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives analyst was able to determine the casings were a probable match to Gun B and Gun C from the "shots fired" report in July.

On Nov. 17, two Milwaukee police officers heard multiple shots fired from what sounded like a large-caliber handgun while they were at a stop sign at N. Hopkins St. and W. Auer Ave. They went to look for a possible shooter and found five .45-caliber casings in the 3200 block of N. 21st St.

Those casings came back as a probable match to Gun B.

According to the criminal complaint:

Milwaukee police tracked down the victim of the shooting, who said he saw a dark vehicle with tinted windows drive past him on N. 21st St. while he was walking to the store. The man said he heard gunfire, realized he had been shot and ran away.

Police showed him a picture of a black 2007 Infiniti that had been stolen in a carjacking six days earlier. The man said it seemed to be the same car that had passed him on N. 21st.

And he said he had seen that same stolen car before, in a vacant lot on N. 21st St., which police say was the same lot where Maclin-Dyson's car had been parked during the July "shots fired" call.

The man also mentioned he had often been told he and Vance, the homicide victim, looked similar.

A shooting, then a homicide

On Nov. 18, two brothers were shot as they left a food store on N. 36th St.

One brother was shot in the right leg, shattering two bones. The other was shot in his stomach.

They told police they were walking from a store when they yelled at a car that nearly hit them. As they continued walking home, the vehicle returned and occupants shot at them, the brothers said.

Police showed the brothers a photo of the stolen Infiniti and they identified it as the car carrying the shooting suspects, the complaint says.

A witness also told police he saw a driver and passenger in a black Infiniti aim handguns out their windows and start shooting at two men.

Police picked up 13 shell casings from the scene. Analysts determined one of them as a match to Gun B, the .45-caliber handgun. The other casings came from a .40-caliber weapon — referred to as Gun D — and prosecutors noted in the complaint that those casings also were a "probable match" to a homicide on Nov. 17 that remains under investigation.

The only homicide in Milwaukee on that date was the fatal shooting of Javontae Bufford, 23, who was found inside a car in the 4700 block of N. 76th St., according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel records.

On Nov. 28, a ShotSpotter alert drew police to W. Townsend St. and N. Sherman Blvd.

They found a red Oldsmobile that had crashed into a light pole. Inside was Vance, who had suffered several gunshot wounds and died from his injuries.

Two witnesses said they saw a black Infiniti in the area at the time of the shooting, and surveillance video from a nearby business appeared to show the red car being followed by the black Infiniti, according to the criminal complaint.

Freeway shootout

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Dec. 9, a shootout was reported on I-43, prompting authorities to shut down the southbound lanes for several hours.

Surveillance video showed a white sedan speeding south on I-43 from Highland Ave. and being followed by a black Infiniti — the same one that was stolen — and a blue Chevrolet SUV.

The occupants in the white sedan later told authorities they had no idea why the people inside the black car were shooting at them, and one man in the sedan said he returned fire, according to the complaint.

During the mayhem, the SUV crashed and the black Infiniti, which had hit a barrier wall, drove across all lanes and ended up in a distress lane in front of the SUV. Traffic camera footage showed people jumping out of the SUV and climbing into the black Infiniti, which then headed the wrong direction on the freeway and exited using the N. 11 St. on-ramp.

The black Infiniti then went north on N. 12th St. and nearly collided with an unmarked Milwaukee Police Department vehicle. Two homicides detectives were inside.

The detectives pursued the black car and saw it spin out on W. State St. near N. 17th St.

Four people ran from the car.

The chase

Officers arrested Maclin-Dyson and Johnson after a foot chase that went through an alley, backyards and an apartment building.

Police identified the two other men as Campbell and Lewis based on DNA evidence inside the blue SUV and on discarded clothing officers found while running after them, the complaint says.

Investigators also picked up more than three dozen shell casings of various sizes. Ten of the casings were linked to the gun used by the man inside the white car who said he fired in self-defense.

Nearly 20 casings came from two guns that were found discarded along the freeway.

Seven of the casings were fired from Gun B, the .45-caliber gun linked to multiple shootings and the killing of Vance.

Six came from a .40-caliber gun, known as Gun D, which has been connected to the shooting of the two brothers outside the store and a homicide on Nov. 17, according to preliminary ballistic findings noted in the criminal complaint.

Maclin-Dyson, Lewis and Johnson remained in Milwaukee County Jail on Monday. Campbell was in custody Monday at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, which is operated by the state Department of Corrections.