Nine months after a fatal shooting in a crowded parking lot in the Lower Nazareth Township mall, authorities have announced charges against two Harrisburg men.
One is in custody and the other is at large and believed to be armed and dangerous, Northampton County District Attorney Terence Houck said at a news conference Friday morning.
Houck said Jakiye Taylor, 18, and Kevin Littles, 22, face homicide and related charges in connection with the Aug. 8, 2021, shooting at Lower Nazareth Commons, home to Target and a Burlington. Coat Factory, among other stores.
Taylor was arrested and arraigned Thursday, but Littles is a fugitive on the run, Houck said.
Elijah Johnson, 20, was shot in the head and shoulder in what Houck described as a drug deal that turned into an attempted robbery. Johnson fell into the passenger side of a Buick Regal parked in the back of the mall parking lot and was later pronounced dead.
Jayzell Sanders, 23, was injured when the shots rang out and was later found bleeding outside the Target store.
According to Houck, Sanders told police that Johnson contacted him earlier in the day and asked Sanders to accompany him to a factory outlet in Monroe County, where the two men lived, but they instead makes a detour to the target where the shooting occurred.
Sanders said Johnson was armed with a Smith & Wesson .22 caliber handgun, and when he parked the car, two men entered the back of their vehicle. Sanders determined Johnson was there to deal drugs and said he was tasked with retrieving a black bag from the trunk that he said contained what authorities said was five pounds of marijuana.
According to Sanders, he gave the bag to the two men in the back of the car. He said they both pulled out handguns and pointed them. Johnson began to struggle with one of the men, while Sanders got out of the car and started running towards the target.
Sanders claimed that one of the men got out of the vehicle and began shooting at him, so he returned fire with his own gun, which was later found near the entrance to the store. Houck said Sanders was charged with reckless endangerment and carrying a firearm without a license. He is free on bail pending trial.
Houck said Taylor and Littles got away with four of the five pounds of marijuana. Police found the other book in the car, along with a handgun and ammunition.
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A forensic examination of Johnson’s cellphone, which included text messages and Snapchat app messages, led police to Taylor and Littles and the men were further linked to the crimes through DNA evidence, Houck said, noting how crucial phones are to investigations.
“You give me your cell phone and I can tell you what kind of person you are,” he said. “You live on your phone.”
Houck would not say how the men originally came into contact with each other.
Houck credited Colonial Regional Police, State Police and county detectives for a nine-month “exhaustive” investigation. Officials “worked literally every day on this case,” he said. “We are closer to justice.”
Taylor is behind bars in Monroe County without bond. He and Littles face life in prison if convicted, Houck said.
Authorities in multiple jurisdictions, including the US Marshals Service, continue to search for Littles, who is believed to be a fugitive. Anyone with information is asked to contact Colonial Regional Police through their Facebook page or by calling 610-861-4820.
“I’m 100% sure they’ll get it,” Houck said.