Victim shot in face; police cite gang ties
A suspect in the slaying of a rival gang member outside a party in January is due back in Spokane on murder charges after being arrested Thursday near Compton, Calif.
Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 25, wanted since June on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, was captured Thursday evening by the fugitive squad of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He’s being held without bail in Los Angeles.
Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said it’s not known yet if Thomas will waive extradition.
“We’re happy to get him and can’t wait to go down there and pick him up,” McGovern said.
Spokane police detectives have been in close contact with Southern California law enforcement regarding the Jan. 17 shooting of John S. Williams, 38, because “many of the suspects were known to have ties to the South Central Los Angeles area,” said Matt Rose, spokesman for the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team.
Police say Thomas shot Williams in the face outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline St. He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting.
Williams’ mother, Cindy Williams, is hopeful Thomas’ arrest will bring closure to her son’s violent death.
“I have to say, the Police Department’s been on it,” she said. “I’m just so thrilled that we’re going to start the proceedings and get that boy put away.”
Thomas could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.
Police say Thomas shot Williams several times before firing a bullet into his face at close range.
They believe the shooting resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child.
The rival, who reportedly belonged to the same gang as Williams, had pulled a gun on Thomas a couple weeks before the party, and Thomas felt he needed to retaliate, police said.
One witness told police there was a feud brewing between older Spokane gang members like Williams and younger members like Thomas.
McGovern said Spokane detectives had recently been tipped to Thomas’ location.
He was arrested with a loaded handgun while hiding in a residence near downtown Los Angeles, said Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Los Angeles authorities also helped capture Thomas’ alleged getaway driver, Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23, in May.
Burton is among six people accused of helping Thomas avoid arrest or of lying to police to cover up the murder.
Five – Eric “Smalls” Burton Jr., 25; Cedric Burton; John E. Burton, 27; James Henderson, 33; and Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24 – have been arrested. Only Marc A. “Bookie” Carter remains at large. Henderson is the only suspect to have resolved his charges. He was credited for 102 days served in jail after pleading guilty this month to riot.
Cedric Burton is scheduled to plead guilty Monday to first-degree rendering criminal assistance. Prosecutors will recommend five years in prison, which he would serve at the same time as a 63-month sentence imposed last month after a jury convicted him of second-degree assault in a separate case.
Police say most of the men are cousins; Cedric and John Burton are half-brothers. All belong to a Compton-based gang, police say.
Route, Thomas, Cedric Burton and Eric Burton were convicted of felony assault or riot for a January 2005 gang murder outside Crazy 8’s bar. Deric D. Burton was convicted of that murder and remains in prison.
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