Texts offer new insight of connection in deadly Struthers shooting
The day after the shooting in Struthers which left 4 year-old Rowan Sweeney dead, the city's Law Director John Zomoida Jr. spoke with 21 News reporter Madison Tromler about new details in the case which 4 four other people - 20 year old Cassandra Marsicola, 30 year old Yarnell Green Jr., 20 year old Andre McCoy Jr., and 22 year old Alexis Schneider - were shot.
According to Zomoida, he believes the alleged shooter, 24 year-old Kimonie Bryant, had a connection with Green and McCoy, with Bryant claiming Green is his cousin and McCoy an alleged acquaintance.
Zomoida said McCoy's cell phone contained text messages from Bryant's cell phone prior to the shooting that tie him to the scene. Texts were sent from a phone number that according to reports are texts between cell phones that allegedly belong to Bryant and McCoy.
The texts were sent at 1:44 a.m. and and 1:45 a.m. which read:
"Sure he ain't got one," from the cell phone alleged to belong to Bryant.
Text from McCoy's number: "Positive. Just told me somebody stole it."
Bryant's cell: "Yo girl car right in front"
McCoy's cell: "Yea"
McCoy's cell: "Come up step open door"
Zomoida said that Schneider begged the shooter not to shoot her son, as the gunman placed the gun to the head of Sweeney and fired twice.
Bryant, however, continues to deny that he was the triggerman, claiming his cell phone had been stolen and the messages were not from him.
Based on the evidence presented, he said he believes neither Mariscola nor Schneider knew Bryant, however, he said one of the two female victims did select Bryant's photo from a police line up of photos as the man who shot them.
"The most critical part of the investigation at this point in time is certainly the positive identification and the text messages," Zimoida said.
According to Zomoida, Valley Christian President Mike Pecchia convinced Bryant to turn himself in.
The law director said Pecchia and his wife, Karen, were mentors to Bryant, and that he mowed the Pecchias lawn. The law director also said that the Pecchia's purchased Bryant's cell phone for him.
Bryant surrendered US Marshals around 8 p.m. Monday, and is set for video arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Green, Schneider and Mariscola are expected to survive their wounds. McCoy remains in critical condition.
The law director would not comment on a motive.