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Trio charged in crime spree that included Ohio City, Tremont carjackings, theft of guns, feds say

September 19, 2018

Trio charged in crime spree that included Ohio City, Tremont carjackings, theft of guns, feds say

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Federal officials have levied charges against three men in a string of crimes that included carjackings in Ohio City, Tremont and Shaker Square and the theft of guns from a Streetsboro shop.

Cleveland men Zyshonne Austin and Ja’Quez Lyons, both 18 years old, were indicted in U.S. District Court in Cleveland in the three carjackings. James Luke, also 18 years old, is charged in the theft from Top Shot Firearms in Streetsboro.

Austin and Lyons are charged with one count each of conspiracy, theft from a federal firearms licensee, carjacking and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Austin is also charged separately with possession of a stolen firearm, and Lyons faces additional counts of carjacking and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

DNA, cellphone records and social media posts tied the men to the crimes, which occurred over a three-day span in April, according to a Wednesday news release.

Austin and Lyons spotted a man getting out of his Volkswagen Passat on April 14 on Larchmere Avenue. One of the men walked up to the man, pulled a gun and demanded his car, while the other man acted as a lookout, according to court documents.

All three men went the following night to Top Shot Firearms, smashed through the glass front door, broke into display cases and stole 10 firearms, according to court records. Blood was found at the scene, according to court documents.

Cleveland police officers called on April 17 to East 123rd Street for a report of gunshots found the stolen Volkswagen Passat. They searched the car and found price tags from the guns stolen from Top Shot, some of which had blood on them, court records say.

The officers also found a rag with suspected blood on it, a hammer and a receipt from the McDonald’s at 3050 Carnegie Ave. from April 15, among other items.

Austin was arrested April 21 after a man and his friend were carjacked at gunpoint on Freeman Avenue in Ohio City, records show. Officers tracked the stolen 2017 Toyota IA to a West Side park and tried to stop it, but it took off. The officers gave chase and eventually arrested Austin, according to a police report.

Officers recovered a gun during the arrest that was from Top Shot, investigators said.

Two weeks later in May, Lyons was arrested and accused of carjacking a 19-year-old woman of her 2016 Lincoln MKC on Thurman Avenue in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. Police searched Lyons’ phone and found that Austin was among his 13 contacts. The two exchanged several text messages discussing the Top Shot break-in, records say.

Investigators also tested the blood on the price tags from the stolen guns and the hammer found in the Passat. The results matched Austin’s DNA, the release said.

Austin’s phone records also showed searches around the time of the Top Shot break-in, including searches for “Top Shot Firearms” and “gun store breakin [sic] Streetsboro,” according to court documents.

He also sent images of himself and others with the stolen firearms and in front of the stolen Passat, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors say the investigation was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program revived by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 in which federal and local law enforcement agencies collaborate to reduce violent crime.

To comment on this story, please visit Wednesday’s crime and courts comments page.

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