Louisville police hone in on bus stop shooting suspect

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Detectives with the Louisville Metro Police Department have identified two people they believe were involved in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Tyree Smith.

Smith was killed at his school bus stop shortly after 6 a.m. on Sept. 22. Police officials have not yet announced any formal charges related to Smith’s murder. Two other teens were also injured in the shooting.

In affidavits filed last month with the Office of the Jefferson Circuit Court Clerk, a detective listed two juveniles — naming a 15-year-old as a potential suspect. A 16-year-old was also named, but not listed as a suspect.

Juvenile court records are not publicly available. A police spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is not naming the juveniles because it is unclear whether either has been charged with a crime. One hung up on a reporter when contacted Monday. The other could not be reached.

Smith’s murder sparked outrage across Louisville and reignited attention on the city’s efforts to address and respond to violent crime. Louisville Metro Police have reported more than 150 homicides this year, a tally on pace to be a record high before year’s end. More than 74% of those cases remain unsolved

Nearly 20 of this year’s homicide victims were juveniles, according to LMPD data.

Witnesses to Smith’s killing said a shooter pulled up to the bus stop at the darkened intersection of Dr. W. J. Hodge and W. Chestnut streets, got out of the vehicle and opened fire on the group of students waiting for their bus to Eastern High School.

‘A distinct connection’

Police used cell phone data and video surveillance to identify the two boys they believe are connected to the killing. 

A Jeep Cherokee used by the suspected shooter was found on fire by police in a St. Matthews apartment complex parking lot the day after the shooting. The Jeep had been reported stolen hours before Smith died.

A 15-year-old boy was captured on video footage getting into the same Jeep at an Okolona apartment complex about an hour before the shooting, according to three affidavits filed by LMPD Detective Kevin Carrillo.

The boy was seen on video carrying a two-liter bottle of orange Fanta, and police found a matching bottle in the Jeep, according to Carrillo. Police also found an empty 9 mm shell casing in the Jeep — which matched the shells found at the murder scene, according to the police affidavits.

The boy was interviewed by police in early September in relation to another homicide. He gave his cell phone number to police during that interview.

Cell data shows the boy’s phone connected with another person’s about a dozen times shortly before the shooting, with the last call at 4:51 a.m. — the same time the Jeep left the Okolona apartment complex, according to Carrillo.

Police then traced that cell phone — which belongs to someone whose identity is not listed in police documents — to the house where the Jeep was reportedly stolen, the apartment complex where the 15-year-old boy lived, the intersection where Smith was killed and the site where police found the burned-out Jeep the day after the shooting.

Carrillo said the data “verified and corroborated a distinct connection” with Smith’s murder.

Ky. Supreme Court to decide if police need a warrant for real-time phone tracking

 

On Oct. 13, Louisville police tracked the cell phone in real time and a detective conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle “traveling in the same path consistent with the path of the device,” during which a 16-year-old boy tried to flee. Police then took the boy, who is the second person named in the affidavit, into custody. They seized his phone and a second phone and have obtained a search warrant to collect data from both. It is unclear if the boy is still in custody.

In the car, police found two guns. One was a 9 mm.

This story has been updated to remove a detail related to one of the subjects.

Contact Jacob Ryan at 502-814-6559 or at jryan@kycir.org.

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