Public Safety

$2.5 million bail for man accused of fatally shooting two teens, injuring two others outside smoke shop

Andre Defaunte Richardson, June 4, 2019
Andre Defaunte Richardson, June 4, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge Wednesday ordered a 26-year-old double murder suspect — who police say tried to escape capture a day earlier by hiding in a garage — be held in jail on a $2.5 million cash-only bail.

Sixth Judicial District Magistrate Carrie Bryner said she knew this was an emotional time for all the families connected to the May 18 shooting outside a southwest Cedar Rapids smoke shop. But she asked people in the crowded courtroom to be quiet during the initial appearance of suspect Andre Richardson of Cedar Rapids.

Richardson, wearing a safety smock, appeared at the hearing by video from the jail. He was charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury, and one count each of intimidation with a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and going armed with intent.

According to police and court records, Richardson fired a “series of shots” into a sport utility vehicle in the parking lot of the shop, 70 Kirkwood Court SW — an attack documented on surveillance video.

He is accused of fatally shooting Royal Abram and Matrell Johnson, both 18, of Cedar Rapids.

Richardson also shot and seriously injured two 19-year-olds, Booker McKinney and Kayla Panos-Blackcloud, according to a criminal complaint, who remain hospitalized.

William Brown, Abram’s grandfather, who attended Wednesday’s hearing with Johnson’s grandmother, Elizabeth Johnson, said afterward he and his family are not doing well with the “tragic” loss.

“My daughter is really taking it hard,” Brown said. “He was her only son. It’s hard when you lose a grandchild.”

Brown said he was close to his grandson. He would come over to play cards with him and the teen would mow his grandfather’s yard.

“I’m sad but I’ve been praying to God that an arrest would be made,” Brown said. “I hate to say it … but I wished Iowa would bring back the death penalty.”

He said he hopes people would stop putting comments on social media when things like this happen.

“Let the police handle it,” Brown said.

A complaint released Tuesday shows officers arrived at the smoke shop about 1:20 a.m. May 18 where they found four people had been shot while inside a black Buick Rendezvous.

During the investigation, which included interviewing witnesses and reviewing the video, authorities said they identified Richardson as the assailant.

Surveillance video shows the 45-caliber handgun jammed several times as Richardson repeatedly shot into the SUV, and each time he cleared the weapon and continued to fire, according to the complaint.

On Tuesday morning, Cedar Rapids police officers and U.S. Marshals Task Force members received information that Richardson was in the area of the 300 block of 22nd Avenue SW, said Greg Buelow, the city’s public safety spokesman.

He ran, authorities said, but was tracked with the help of a police dog. Authorities soon captured Richardson, who was bitten by the dog, hiding in a garage at 229 21 Ave. SW.

If convicted of the charges, Richardson faces two life sentences.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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