Man charged in four Cleveland gang shootings that left five dead
Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com By Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com
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on April 21, 2017 at 12:12 PM, updated April 21,
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A 25-year-old Cleveland man already charged in two deadly shootings that left three men dead earlier this year faces charges in two more killings dating back to 2015.
Da'Montais Banks pleaded not guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Friday morning to a new indictment charging him in the killings of Gregory Norman in August 2015 and Dion Pratt in May 2016.
Banks is now charged with aggravated murder and scores of other charges, including felony murder, attempted murder, felonious assault, aggravated robbery and weapons charges tied to four separate, gang-related shootings that have left five people dead across neighborhood's in Cleveland's East Side.
Investigators used new information from informants and eyewitnesses, and corroborated that information with cellphone records, to tie Banks to the shootings, assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Andrew Santoli, the lead prosecutor on the case, told cleveland.com Friday.
Banks is not charged with being in a criminal gang, but police detectives and prosecutors are still probing the case, Santoli said.
The shootings underscore how a relatively small number of people can wreak havoc across Cleveland's neighborhoods through retaliatory gun violence that only spurs more shootings, Santoli said.
"It's shocking that one individual can be responsible for such mayhem over a two-year period of time," Santoli said.
Banks was ordered held on $1 million bond at his Friday arraignment.
Banks is accused of being the triggerman in three of the shootings, and helping to carry out a fourth. Santoli said each of the shootings came in retaliation for an earlier incident, and the victims of the gunfire were targeted.
Banks is accused of driving the car from which 22-year-old Brendon Watts opened fire on Norman on Aug. 24, 2015.
Norman, 19, was walking with a woman along Saywell Avenue when the gunfire erupted. A bullet struck Norman in the chest, and the car sped off, police said. Norman died at the hospital later that night.
Banks was one of three men who fatally shot 28-year-old Pratt in the chest May 25 as Pratt sat on the front porch of a home on Somerset Avenue near East 105th Street. The gunmen came from behind a vacant house and opened fire, police said.
Pratt ran into his home and collapsed on the floor. A 25-year-old man who was sitting with Pratt was shot in both his legs. He ran to the next street over, where police found him lying in the street.
The new charges are in addition to those stemming from the Jan. 25 crime spree in which investigators say Banks, Darien Hayes and Julius Claxton shot and killed a man during a failed carjacking, carjacked a woman, drove to Harvard Wine and Grill and opened fire on a suspected member of the Loyal Always gang.
Police say Banks, Hayes and Claxton approached 45-year-old Carlos Hurt about 7:30 p.m. as Hurt sat in a car outside a house at East 145th Street and Glendale Avenue. Banks tried to carjack Hurt, but Hurt wouldn't give up his car, prosecutors say.
Banks opened fire, and all three men ran from the scene, Santoli said. A bullet pierced Hurt's right thigh and burst his femoral artery. Paramedics rushed him to University Hospitals where he was later pronounced dead.
The men stole a woman's Nissan SUV and drove to the restaurant and opened fire on Jesus Bey, Santoli said.
Bey returned fire, and the men exchanged more than 50 shots, police said. Bey killed Claxton during the shootout, and Banks shot and killed Hayes, Santoli said.
Claxton was found dead with gunshot wounds to his head and body. Hayes was found dead on the sidewalk near the Nissan wearing a black ski mask.
Bey has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the shooting, and is also being held on $1 million bond.
Bey's name surfaced in the trial of Douglas Shine Jr., who was convicted of killing three men inside a Warrensville Heights barbershop as part of a feud withLoyal Always members. Bey was imprisoned at the time of those shootings and recorded phone calls between Bey and Shine were played at Shine's trial. Shine was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Banks was arrested when police say he broke into the home of one of Hayes' family members the next day as the family mourned the 22-year-old's death, according to court records.
The incident sparked a short standoff and Banks was arrested.
The case highlights a mentality shared among Cleveland's street gangs to exact revenge for crimes against their members, rather than go through the criminal justice system, Santoli said.
"They go back and forth shooting each other until people get killed," Santoli said.
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