ALTON — A 24-year-old man is facing three counts of first-degree murder and an aggravated, unlawful use of weapons charge in the fatal shooting Wednesday night of a friend.
Friday, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office charged suspect Justin Dwight Vaughn, of the 1000 block of Easton Street, with the four felony offenses related to the death of Demetrius Cortez Lucas, 30, of the 1900 block of Belle Street, Alton.
Third Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli set no bond for Vaughn, who was in custody at Alton City Jail on Friday afternoon.
“It was not random, it was friends arguing and one of them (allegedly) shot the other one,” said Pfc. Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department, declining to say about what the men were arguing. She said there were other people present at time of the shooting, which was on Vaughn’s birthday.
The shooting happened at about 10 p.m. in the first block of Manor Drive, outside an apartment building in Storey Manor complex. The area is north of Storey Lane and west of Stanley Road in northeast Alton.
Police said a civilian drove Lucas, who had suffered a “mid-body gunshot wound” to Alton Memorial Hospital emergency room where he received treatment. Lucas, though, died in an ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter en route to a St. Louis hospital, Hejna said.
Medical staff in St. Louis pronounced Lucas dead at 11:03 p.m., upon arrival.
“The patrol division worked fast to locate the victim and they got information quickly,” helping detectives solve the crime within hours, she said. Police sent out a press release only after obtaining Vaughn’s charges Friday afternoon. The Telegraph had the initial report of a homicide earlier in the day.
The release says someone had called 911 about shots being fired at the complex. When patrol officers arrived, the mortally wounded Lucas already was gone from the property.
“The investigation continued in the Storey Manor Apartment complex as the APD Patrol Division located an exterior crime scene and began contacting residents and identifying potential witnesses,” the release says. “The APD Investigations Bureau was activated and subsequently worked through the night — with the Patrol Division — processing the crime scene, recovering evidence and interviewing witnesses. A suspect was developed and later taken into custody at approximately 2:30 a.m. (Thursday).”
The release says police continued the investigation into daylight hours Thursday, with addional searches and execution of a search warrant.
“Detectives have continued following leads and conducting interviews with both the suspect and witnesses, up through today’s date,” it says.
Alton detectives presented their case to the State’s Attorney’s Office beginning at about 1:30 p.m. Friday, eventually obtaining the charges.
The warrant says Vaughn allegedly shot Lucas with a .45-caliber handgun; the aggravated unlawful use of a weapons charge says Vaughn allegedly used a weapon to shoot the victim on land he does not own, live or with the owner’s permission. It also says Vaughn is a felon, which makes it illegal for him to have a firearm, having been convicted of mob action in Madison County.
Linda N. Weller may be reached at 618-463-2559 or on Twitter @Linda_Weller.