4 charged in witness intimidation shooting
Four Philadelphia men have been charged with attempted murder in a witness intimidation incident stretching back to a 2010 shootout on a city street, according to the District Attorney’s office.
Authorities say Charles Alexander, 35, Troy Cooper, 42, Aki Jones, 37, and Shaheed Williams, 21, are also charged with witness intimidation, aggravated assault, and conspiracy.
The two-year investigation into the case involved the D.A.’s office, city police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Events began Nov. 22, 2010 when gunshots erupted on Turner Street. The shooting occurred after a fight among several women.
A witness called 9-1-1 to report the incident, as well as what he saw. Jones was arrested for his alleged involvement in the fight. He was charged with firearm and other offenses.
Authorities now say two of Jones’ friends approached the witness the day before Jones's trial was set to start in September 2011. The two friends – Charles Alexander and Troy Cooper – allegedly tried to bribe the witness with $500 in exchange for not testifying. The witness refused.
The next day, the witness was shot several times at close range as he left his house. Authorities say that the person who pulled the trigger, Shaheed Williams, is a friend of Jones.
According to investigators, Williams pointed a gun at the witness’s head and fired. The round struck the hand of the witness, who was trying to cover his head. Williams then fired another two shots, police said.
The witness, who was trying to flee, was knocked to the ground. Williams approached and said: “You won’t talk no more,” according to investigators.
Williams fired an “execution style” shot at the witness, authorities say. The round struck the witness’s neck, but missed his spinal cord. As a result, the witness survived.
The joint investigation uncovered evidence, authorities allege, that showed the plan was hatched to prevent the witness from testifying against Jones.
Jones and Williams are currently jailed in unrelated cases. Alexander and Cooper, who authorities say attempted the bribe, were arrested by ATF agents on Wednesday morning. They are being processed by police.
“I first want to applaud the victim in this case,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement. “At a time when too many witness are afraid to go to court because they are intimidated by thugs like these defendants, this victim heroically came forward despite being shot and made sure that justice was not denied.”