Southeastern PA

Two Pottstown homicide suspects captured

John Parson and Tyron Witherspoon charged with first-degree murder

Suspects in Pottstown homicide nabbed

POTTSTOWN, Pa. - John Parson, Jr., and Tyron Witherspoon have been charged with murder for the  June 5 killing of a man during a gun sale in a Pottstown alley.

Both defendants are charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and more.

Parson was apprehended Friday morning in Lower Pottsgrove Township, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

Witherspoon also was apprehended Friday  in Philadelphia by that task force and the homicide fugitive unit of the Philadelphia Police Department.

The arrests were announced by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Pottstown police chief F. Richard Drumheller.

At 9:52 p.m. June 5, Pottstown police responded to the 400 block of Jefferson Avenue for a report of a suspicious vehicle.

Inside the vehicle, police found 20-year-old Steven Mitchell, who had been shot and was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation by the Montgomery County detective bureau and police determined that Mitchell and two other males met with Parson and Witherspoon that night to purchase a 9-mm handgun.

The five men drove to Liberty Alley in Pottstown to conduct the transaction.

As one of Mitchell's companions was counting out the money to pay for the firearm, Witherspoon pointed a handgun at him and demanded the money, according to investigators.

Parson pointed another gun at Mitchell, who was still in the car. Police said Mitchell attempted to flee the alley, but Parson fired his weapon into the vehicle, striking Mitchell.

Both Parson and Witherspoon then fled.  Complaints against them were filed on Tuesday.

Mitchell didn't get much of a chance to enjoy freedom. 

Just after getting out of jail, the 20 year-old was murdered. 

"It was a shock," said Anita Lew, who lives just a few doors down.  "It was horrible."

An autopsy conducted on June 6 by the Montgomery County Coroner's Office revealed Mitchell's death was caused by a gunshot wound to the torso. 

The murder suspects were arraigned Friday by Magisterial District Judge Edward Kropp Sr. in Pottstown.

News of the arrests Friday did little to ease neighbors' nerves.

"It's not safe, for like kids and stuff," said neighbor Shana Thorp.  "I guess people from other cities come down here and just -- it's all probably drug related."

Frustrations hit a boiling point at a vigil for Mitchell last Friday night.

"He was a good person and he didn't deserve what happened to him," the victim's friend, Lashauna Simmons, said that night.

At the vigil, Pottstown's mayor blamed her town's crime spike to drugs and illegal guns.  She promised a renewed focus on crime.

"I speak to the police department daily," said Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas last Friday.  "There are some shifting strategies that are coming into position, and I think there are going to be more foot patrols by concerned citizens."

Louis Hampton is one of those citizens.  He's with the Guardian Angels.

"Get a job; don't sell nothing," he said.  "A job is more important than getting in the street.  The street -- you get into too many troubles."

At the murder site, the memorial is still there a week later, faded by the rain.  What hasn't faded here is the fear of a long, violent summer.

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