Police scour side streets after killing of man who answered his door
By Joe Gorman
It appears there are some limits city police detectives have when it comes to collecting evidence in a homicide investigation.
Detectives and crime-lab personnel Thursday morning were scouring West Side streets around South Lakeview Avenue, where Evan Amos, 22, was shot and killed about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday after he answered a knock on his side door.
On South Portland Avenue, one street west of the crime scene, they asked a woman for permission to take pictures in her backyard, including her garden, where they found footprints they believe were made by the suspects who were arrested – James Perry and Jesse Stewart, both 19 – who witnesses said ran through several yards after Amos was shot.
Detective Sgt. Chad Zubal assured the woman they would be careful in her garden.
“We’ll try not to step on your tomato plants,” Zubal said.
The woman said she understood and told officers to do whatever they needed to do.
Amos was the city’s 17th homicide victim this year. In 2016, Youngstown had 18 homicides. At this point last year, the city had 15 homicides.
Amos was an amateur boxer who trained at the Union City Boxing Club on the East Side. Sam Calderon, who runs the club, said Amos was “a good kid” who worked three jobs to support himself.
Calderon said Amos came to the gym at 13 when his grandfather took him there because he wanted to learn how to box.
“I just don’t understand this,” Calderon said. “Everybody’s in shock.”
Capt. Brad Blackburn, chief of detectives, said Amos was killed because the two suspects were looking to rob him. Blackburn would not say what Perry and Stewart were looking to take, but he did say the two were there specifically for Amos.
Chief Robin Lees credited patrol officers on the midnight shift for quick work to catch Perry and Stewart just minutes after Amos was killed. They are both in the Mahoning County jail on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder and are expected to be arraigned in municipal court today.
Reports said Patrolman Joe Wess was one of several officers called to the home in the 100 block of South Lakeview for the shooting. He got a description of two men wearing dark clothing running through several yards after Evans was shot.
Wess checked behind the Circle K at Mahoning and Belle Vista avenues and spotted a man later identified as Stewart who matched the description of one of the shooters. Wess asked Stewart what he was doing, and Stewart said he was going to the bathroom behind the store.
Because Stewart matched the description of one of the suspects and also because he was in an out-of-the-way place, Wess detained him.
Wess then pulled out of the Circle K and saw another man, later identified as Perry, standing in front of a flower shop and sweating profusely and breathing hard. Perry also was detained, and the two were taken to the detective bureau. They were arrested and booked into the jail after questioning by detectives.
Police returned to South Lakeview as well as South Portland to check for evidence Thursday morning.
In a backyard on South Maryland Avenue filled with children’s toys, two streets west of the crime scene, officers found a gun next to a garbage can and took it as evidence.
Amos has no criminal record, and neither does Perry.
Police arrested Stewart in May on a warrant for driving under suspension and had drug charges added after he told corrections officers at the jail he had five bags of suspected cocaine in his buttocks.
A county grand jury indicted him, and a warrant was issued for his arrest Aug. 30 after he failed to attend a hearing for an intervention in lieu of conviction in common pleas court. He also had cases in juvenile court for breaking and entering in July 2011, theft in November 2011 and attempted receiving stolen property in June 2016.