5 shot, 2 dead in Liberty Twp. shootings: What happened this week

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Liberty Park on Yankee Road in Liberty Township

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Five people from ages 18 to 25 were shot and two were killed in incidents originating at a Liberty Twp. park less than two days apart this week.

A 25-year-old man who investigators say was lured to the township for a vehicle theft died on a street Tuesday after meeting several people at Liberty Park on Yankee Road. Then on Wednesday night, after two groups met at the park for a fight, an 18-year old recent Fairfield High School graduate and football standout was shot and later died.

Arrests have been made in both cases, and investigators are continuing to search for a suspect in Tuesday’s shooting. Officials said the incidents are not related.

Butler County Sheriff’s detectives search Liberty Park of shell casings on Thursday afternoon. One man was killed and two others injured during shooting at the park Wednesday night. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Butler County Sheriff’s detectives search Liberty Park of shell casings on Thursday afternoon. One man was killed and two others injured during shooting at the park Wednesday night. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

There had not been a fatal shooting in the township in at least six years before the deaths, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. The incidents caused surprise in the community and strong words from Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

In the latest event, which happened at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, two groups met in the park for a fight, and someone started shooting, Jones said. The sheriff’s office identified the man shot and killed as Antaun Hill Jr., 18, of Fairfield Twp. Zyquon Moody, 18, of Hamilton and Zyshaun Johnson, 19, of Cincinnati were shot and injured.

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

“He as a great young man and a model student with an infectious smile,” the district said in a statement. “He will be sorely missed by his friends, teachers, administrators, classmates and teammates. We will keep his family in our prayers during this extremely difficult time.”

Romel Velasquez, 18, of Cincinnati, was arrested and charged with murder and two counts of felonious assault.

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Jones said the altercation between some members of the groups began on Sunday in Fairfield Twp. and concerned stolen items. They agreed to meet up in the park settle their differences, he said.

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“Two groups decided they would meet behind the YMCA,” Jones said.

That’s when detectives say Velasquez pulled out a gun and started firing randomly. Jones said it appears Hill may have been a member of Velasquez’ group.

The incident is not gang-related, Jones said.

“It is a crazy world we live in,” Jones said. ”Doesn’t matter where you live, pay attention to where your kids are.”

The first incident happened at about 5:23 a.m. Tuesday when a group met at the park. The sheriff’s office said suspects “lured” the victim, Khalic Rova-Shaquille Milton, 25, of Cincinnati to the area to steal his car. Then there was an altercation on the bike path.

“The struggle continued all the way back to his (Milton’s) car,” said sheriff’s office Major Mike Craft. “He made it back to his vehicle, where he was shot and left in the street.”

Milton was found dead in the 6000 block of Spruce Creek Drive. The suspects drove away in Milton’s purple Camaro that was later ditched in West Chester Twp.

Two teens have been arrested in Tuesday’s incident, and a warrant has been issued for a third man. Kaleb Marshall Tooson, 18, of Liberty Twp. was arrested on charges of murder and aggravated robbery, and he was also shot during the encounter. He was video arraigned Wednesday in Area II Court, where bond was set at $500,000.

A 14-year-old girl, who is a Lakota East student, was arrested on charges of complicity to aggravated robbery, complicity to murder and tampering with evidence. She is being held in the county juvenile detention center and is scheduled to appear before Juvenile Judge Kathleen Romans on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing.

According to court documents, the teen girl admitted to being present “during (a) pre-planned robbery and possessing pepper spray during the event.”

A warrant also was issued for Tyree Jeffery Cross, 25, of Cincinnati, who is sought on charges of complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Detectives were still looking for Cross as of Thursday afternoon.

Tyree Jeffery Cross
Tyree Jeffery Cross

Sheriff’s detectives were back out at the park Thursday afternoon with metal detectors searching for casings. Craft said all the casings they found the night before while searching in the dark came from one gun.

Jones said it took multiple agencies to work Wednesday night’s shooting, including all available deputies, West Chester and Fairfield Twp. police and the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Nine cruisers were at the hospital, others were at the crime scene and corrections officers were called to help separate witnesses and families the crowded the halls of the sheriff’s office.

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