The two men arrested in connection with Sunday’s shooting in a Poughkeepsie hotel lobby that killed a father in town for a family weekend at Marist College have been indicted — but the question remains: Why wasn’t more done to get the suspected killer off the street before the deadly shooting?
Roy Johnson Jr., the alleged gunman and a known fugitive at the timewas indicted on a murder charge, while Devin Taylor, who was cuffed at the scene along with him, faces weapons charges, the source said Friday. Arraignments are expected to take place next week in county court, a source familiar with the case said .
The latest developments come amid ongoing fallout over the casegiven that Johnson was wanted on gun and drug charges out of Georgia and suspected in an Aug. 9 homicide at the time of the seemingly random shooting in the hotel lobby on Sunday morning. There is growing concern in Poughkeepsie that police and prosecutors could have done far more to stop the suspected killer before he killed Long Island father Paul Kutz.
Police for the city of Poughkeepsie said Wednesday that while they were aware the alleged gunman who killed a father in a seemingly random hotel lobby shooting had been a fugitive of the law, they couldn’t arrest him for one simple reason: They couldn’t find him.
“They could have gotten them, but they prioritized on the wrong things right now,” said Poughkeepsie resident Kayla Colon.
Johnson Jr. had been labeled a criminal fugitive over the summer by the sheriff’s office in Fulton County, Georgia, after he allegedly skipped court after his arrest on felony gun and cocaine dealing charges. The sheriff’s office said a warrant for his arrest was put into a national database in July.
Weeks later, Johnson Jr. emerged as a key suspect in connection with the August murder of Darren Villani in the Poughkeepsie area , which was believed to be gang-related, law enforcement sources said.
The district’s office and police for the city of Poughkeepsie attorney have not said when they first checked databases to learn that Johnson Jr. was wanted elsewhere. But several law enforcement sources told NBC New York that Johnson Jr. was believed to be in Poughkeepsie right after the Aug. 9 shooting, and some officials wanted to pick him up.
Several law enforcement sources News 4 that while police wanted to make an arrest, the district attorney and others wanted to wait. The Dutchess County district attorney’s office said Friday that the office “never made a request to delay an arrest” of Johnson Jr., saying that there was never evidence to warrant an arrest be made in the homicide.
Earlier this week, police for the city of Poughkeepsie and the district attorney’s office said that while they were aware Johnson Jr. had been a fugitive of the law, they couldn’t arrest him for one simple reason: They couldn’t find him.
The City of Poughkeepsie’s police department said in a statement that they were aware there was a warrant out for his arrest, but did not know where he was. The district attorney’s office also said it was aware of the Georgia warrant ever since the investigation into the August homicide began, just as the police department was.
“When our office learned of the bench warrant, on multiple charges from the State of Georgia, the city of Poughkeepsie Police were already looking for Johnson, Jr. to speak to him with regard to the August 9, 2022 homicide,” Matthew Weishaupt, chief assistant district attorney for Dutchess County, said Wednesday.
Relatives at Villani’s home declined comment Friday. His mother said she was too upset to speak.
The city’s police department, which said they were also looking for him in the Villani killing, said they were unable to find him because he did not have a permanent address. At the time, sources had told the city’s police department that Johnson Jr. had been hiding from police by staying at hotels in New York and other states.
But despite believing that he had been traveling out of state, numerous law enforcement officials told NBC New York that police never asked US Marshals, state police or a joint anti-crime task force led by the FBI for help in tracking Johnson down.
In a statement, the DA’s office said Friday that “any interaction with the US Marshals would not have come from this office. This office is not part of a federal drug or violent crime task force, as this is a prosecutor’s office. We work with many task forces, but are not part of one.”
As we get our first look at the father killed in a hotel shooting over the weekend, the I-Team is uncovering new information about two men charged in his death — including the alleged gunman who investigators said was also a wanted fugitive. Jonathan Dienst reports .
The city police department also said it had no knowledge of Johnson Jr. ‘s whereabouts before the deadly shooting at the Poughkeepsie Courtyard by Marriott on Oct. 2.
The Town of Poughkeepsie (the City of Poughkeepsie and Town of Poughkeepsie are separate entities and jurisdictions) said the police department was not aware of the warrant until after Johnson Jr.’s arrest on Sunday, and that it did not have any open homicide or robbery investigations involving either of the two men arrested in the hotel shooting.
Meanwhile, the county executive said Friday that law enforcement owes the victim’s family and the public some answers.
“These are two criminals, individuals who are known to law enforcement. They were out on our streets and ultimately they shouldn’t have been,” said Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro.
The two men taken into custody for the shooting at a hotel in Poughkeepsie are also being investigated as suspects for a previous robbery and murder, Jessica Cunnington reports.