Charges against two men arrested for their alleged involvement in a shooting at the Valero convenience store on Brookdale Street in Martinsville were either dropped, dismissed or reduced at a bond hearing Thursday afternoon in Martinsville General District Court.
Ombae Johnson Jr., 21, and Dasyne Akiese Hairston, 19, both of Martinsville were arrested on charges of malicious assault, maliciously shooting at an occupied building, use of a firearm in a felony-first offense and reckless handling of a firearm.
By the end of the hearing, Judge Joan Ziglar only certified one amended charge of shooting at an occupied building to Martinsville Circuit Court.
Police were working the scene of a shooting on Feb. 6 at the nearby El Norteno Restaurant where two people died and two others were seriously wounded when Danielle Gonzalez, a third-shift cashier at Valero, hit the panic button shortly before 2 a.m. when shots rang out from the parking lot.
“I had just served the last customer and locked the door at 1:45 a.m.” said Gonzalez. “At about 1:49 a.m. I heard three shots, and so I dropped and hit the button.”
Gonzalez said she waited until officers arrived and didn’t know what had happened until she replayed the surveillance officers for the police.
Martinsville Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Daniel Mook had the video played in the courtroom while Kiera Rose described it.
“I was driving, and Kendall Myers was in the front seat, and Ombae and Dasyne were in the backseat,” Rose said. “It was Ombae’s idea to go to Valero, and I stopped there to get some gas.”
The video shows a light-colored vehicle at the gas pumps closest to the building, identified by Gonzalez as the vehicle of her last customer before closing.
Then Rose identified her vehicle on the video, stopping at the gas pumps on the far side.
Two men in the video, who Rose identified as Johnson and Hairston, got out of Rose’s vehicle, while a third, unidentified person gets out of the passenger-side door of the light-colored vehicle.
The video shows the three men approaching each other between the two rows of gas pumps, and one man produces a handgun and fires several times at the man who got out of the light-colored vehicle.
Rose identified the shooter in the video to be Johnson, because of the shirt she remembered him wearing that night.
“We left and dropped Ombae and Dasyne off on some road in the Brosville area,” Rose said.
Martinsville Investigators Joe Washburn and Richard Ratcliffe responded to the scene and began collecting evidence.
“We found bone fragment, skin and blood in the parking lot,” Washburn said. “There were more red stains to the right of the building, and there were three shell casings in the parking lot.”
Ratcliffe said Sovah Health-Martinsville reported receiving a patient with gunshot wounds shortly after the incident at Valero, so he left the convenience store and went to the hospital.
Ratcliffe said, when he got to the emergency room, they were treating Deangelo M. Howard.
“The doctor said he had multiple gunshot wounds, and there was blood all over the floor,” Ratcliffe said. “I tried to talk to him while they were working on him.”
Ziglar said she had taken careful notes of the evidence presented and testimony offered, and although all four occupants of the second vehicle had been identified, there was nothing to prove who the person was who appeared to get shot.
“I see someone in the video, and we have Howard at the hospital, but that’s speculation,” Ziglar said.
She gave Mook a final opportunity to come up with something more convincing.
“The evidence is what it is, your honor,” Mook said.
Said Ziglar: “There is no basis to certify two of these charges, and I’m dismissing them.”
Mook had requested the reckless handling of a firearm charge be dropped at the beginning of the hearing, and Ziglar dismissed the malicious assault and use of a firearm in a felony-first offense charges.
The charge of maliciously shooting at an occupied building was amended to shoot at an occupied building and then certified to Martinsville Circuit Court.
Martinsville Deputy Police Chief Rob Fincher had described the Valero shooting as “spillover” from the El Norteno shooting earlier that night, but there was no evidence presented at the hearing on Thursday to connect the two.
Both Johnson and Hairston will remain in Martinsville City Jail, awaiting their next court date, which was not immediately set after the hearing.
Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 236. Follow him @billdwyatt.