Attorney: Dismissing murder charge in Liberty Twp. park shooting ‘the right choice’

A murder charge has been dropped against a Cincinnati man who was initially accused of killing 18-year-old Antaun Hill Jr. on Wednesday night in Liberty Park.

Romel Velasquez, 18, was arrested and charged with murder and two counts of felonious assault within hours of the shooting that Sheriff Richard Jones said began with a previous theft and two groups meeting to fight in the park.

Last week, Jones said Velasquez began firing into the crowd, striking Hill and injuring two others. But further investigation revealed another gun was fired during the incident that happened about 10 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

In addition to the fatal shooting of Hill, Zyquon Moody, 18, of Hamilton and Zyshaun Johnson, 19, of Cincinnati, were shot. Later in the investigation, Moody was also charged with felonious assault for allegedly being a second shooter in the incident.

On Friday, the murder charge was dismissed against Velasquez in Butler County Area II Court. He remains charged with felonious assault, and the investigation is ongoing, according to Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

Velasquez remains charged with two counts of felonious assault and is scheduled to be in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

“I think the prosecutor and the detectives are doing their due diligence,” said David Washington, who is representing Velasquez. “I think they are doing what is right and what they think is right and the dismissing of the murder charge against my client is the right choice.”

Hill was a recent graduate of Fairfield High School, where he played football, and he planned to play at Independence Community College in Kansas.

Dwyer said Velasquez initially confessed to being the only shooter, and detectives recovered the gun he allegedly used. But detectives began hearing that a second person may have been firing a weapon, and the investigation continued.

“So we started at square one and began interviewing all the people who were out there and through that arduous task people came forward and said, ‘Yeah this guy was shooting and had a gun too,’” Dwyer said.

A second weapon has been recovered as part of the investigation.

Dispatchers received six 911 calls about the incident, one warning a fight was about to happen. Frantic neighbors heard gunshots, a caller at the scene screamed and prayed and one caller reported a big fight was about to happen in the calls received by dispatchers.

In one, the caller is difficult to hear but says “There’s about to be a big fight, I saw it (on) social media.”

The dispatcher asks if the location is Liberty Park, and the caller says “Yep.” The caller says he does not know if anyone involved would have weapons.

Deputies were en route to the park due to the call when shots were fired, according to the sheriff’s office

A female caller said she heard about five gunshots in the park or in the apartment complex nearby. Another female caller told dispatchers a person had been shot and a car “sped away” from the park located on Yankee Road toward Cincinnati Dayton Road.

“There are still two (cars) in the parking lot in the back,” the caller told the dispatcher. “There is definitely still a fight, you can hear it. Somebody is going to get killed.”

In a three-minute call from the shooting scene, a male caller screams in anguish, “Antaun, get up please. Oh, my God.”

Through loud screaming and crying from multiple people, a person says, “A man got shot. Please God, please, God please, God please.”

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