Public Safety

Double homicide suspect Andre Richardson taken into custody in Cedar Rapids

18-year-olds Royal Abram, Matrell Johnson fatally shot on May 18, two others injured

Andre Richardson
Andre Richardson

CEDAR RAPIDS — Seventeen days after four teenagers were shot at close range — leaving two of them dead — the gunman authorities said is responsible for the double homicide was found hiding in a garage Tuesday morning and captured after being bitten by a police dog.

Andre Richardson, 26, was taken into custody after city officers and members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force received information he was in the area of the 300 block of 22nd Avenue SW, said Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow,

Police said officers responded to the area and found Richardson, who ran. Officers set up a perimeter around the area and used a police dog to track him, Buelow said.

He was found about 11:15 a.m. hiding in a garage at 299 21st Ave. SW, about a block away from where he was spotted.

Buelow said Richardson is not believed to be connected to the area where he was found.

No details were disclosed about just where he was first spotted or the circumstances of why he was there. But Tuesday afternoon, police with a warrant were searching a house in that 300 block of 22nd Avenue SW, Buelow said.

Police had issued a warrant for his arrest Friday, asking the public to call with tips on his whereabouts but warning that he was armed and dangerous.

“Fortunately, we had a lot of feet on the ground, a dog on the ground, and we were able to find him,” said Cedar Rapids police Chief Deputy Tom Jonker. “He was bit, but mildly and no officers or citizens were hurt.”

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Richardson is accused of murder in connection with the May 18 shooting in the parking lot of Iowa Smoke Shop that killed Royal Abram and Matrell Johnson, both 18.

Two 19-year-olds — who were identified in a criminal complaint Tuesday as Booker McKinney and Kayla Panos-Blackcloud — were gravely wounded in the attack.

According to the complaint, officers were dispatched to the smoke shop parking lot about 1:20 a.m. where they found four people had been shot while inside a black Buick Rendezvous.

During their investigation, police interviewed witnesses and reviewed the smoke shop’s surveillance images and were able to identify Richardson as the assailant.

The investigation and video showed Richardson was in the front seat of a vehicle driven by Alexandra Smith, 24 — who was named as a person of interest early in the investigation. Deshawn Hull Jr., 21, Kenyauta Keith, 19, and Colby Shannon, 22 — who police had also named as persons of interest — were also in the vehicle, the court record states.

Video surveillance showed Smith’s vehicle arrived in the parking lot “just minutes before” Panos-Blackcloud’s sport utility vehicle pulled in. As Panos-Blackcloud parked her SUV, the complaint states, Richardson jumped out of Smith’s vehicle and “fired a series of shots with a .45-caliber handgun at close range at all the occupants.”

The complaint states the video showed the gun jammed several times as Richardson repeatedly shot into the SUV, and each time he cleared the weapon and continued to fire. Richardson then got back into Smith’s vehicle and they drove away.

Johnson and Abram — who were pronounced dead at the scene — were both seated in the back seat, the complaint states, while Panos-Blackcloud was in the driver’s seat and McKinney was in the front passenger seat.

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McKinney and Panos-Blackcloud still are hospitalized, according to police. An update on their conditions was not immediately available.

While surveillance video played a vital role in the investigation, Jonker said social media also proved valuable.

“Social media was very helpful in putting together this investigation,” he said. “And not just with this investigation, but with others too. It’s incredible what people will post. We’re very much up on social media and people don’t hide it, they post it with their face right there.”

Richardson faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempt to commit murder, two counts 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.

The criminal complaint indicates authorities believe the shooting was premeditated and intentional.

“Officials are no longer seeking other ‘people of interest’ in the case,” according to Buelow.

That said, he added, the investigation continues and “the Police Department did not indicate whether additional individuals may be charged.”

The deaths of Abram and Johnson marked the city’s first double killing in five years. A relative of Johnson told The Gazette shortly after the shooting that the teen and others had attended the May 17 funeral of Tyrice D. “Reese” Douglas, who died May 6 from injuries sustained in a December shooting.

Later that night, the relative said, Johnson and others went to a party not far from the smoke shop.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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