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Man connected to West Side shooting free on bond, police say

By Rusty Marks, Staff writer and Travis Crum

A Charleston man allegedly responsible for locking down two West Side elementary schools and leading police on a high-speed chase during a shooting spree last month is out of jail, Charleston police say.

“We want the people of the West Side and the city of Charleston to know this guy is out on bond,” said Lt. Shawn Williams of the Charleston Police Department on Thursday.

On March 25, police said Justin Lee Davis drove a silver Mitsubishi while a New York man fired 16 shots at another vehicle on Hazelwood Avenue, about 900 feet away from J.E. Robins Elementary School.

Police chased the car to Second Avenue, near Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary, where Davis and Adams got out and ran, police said.

No one was hurt, but bullets struck several homes. Both schools were releasing students at the time and were placed on lockdown while police searched for the alleged suspects.

Davis, 24, and Aric Adams, 20, of Buffalo, N.Y., were arrested and charged with wanton endangerment.

Kanawha County Magistrate Pete Lopez originally set Davis’ bail at $25,000, or 10 percent cash. However, Kanawha Magistrate Julie Yeager reduced that bail to $10,000 or 10 percent during a felony preliminary hearing on April 4. Davis later paid $1,000 and was released from jail.

“To me, this is a textbook case of a guy who should have remained in jail,” Williams said.

Yeager said Kanawha Assistant Prosecutor Ken Starcher asked her to reduce Davis’ bail in exchange for Davis to waive his case to circuit court.

“Bond reductions in exchange for waivers of felony preliminary hearings happen everyday,” Yeager said.

David had no previous record, Yeager said, and Charleston police officers were present during the hearing.

“If they didn’t think he needed to be on the street then the prosecutor’s office simply needs to go upstairs to a circuit judge and ask for bond modification and an increase in bond,” Yeager said. “They hit me with the waiver.”

Starcher did not return a phone message. Chuck Hamilton, Davis’ attorney, also did not return a phone message.

Federal authorities on Monday charged Adams with possessing a firearm in a school zone. He remained in South Central Regional Jail in federal custody on Thursday. The wanton endangerment charge against Adams was dismissed because he was charged in federal court.

Police believe the March 25 shooting was in retaliation for a shooting incident the previous day. Police investigated the incidents, which appear to be between two feuding families. Another shooting happened March 30, injuring two people.

Williams said releasing the information about Davis’ release is part of the police department’s crackdown on crime on the West Side.

“We’ve put a great deal of emphasis lately on cleaning up the West Side,” he said. He said police have been working with residents to try to make the neighborhood safer.

Police made arrests outside a West Side bar for the second time in two weeks early Thursday, and also asked the city building department to condemn an apartment building where people were found living in squalid conditions.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163. Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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