DA seeks 1st-degree murder conviction against 4 in fatal shooting of Antonio Yarger Jr.




  • In US
  • 2022-12-08 14:11:43Z
  • By Erie Times News

Four Erie males are accused of searching for someone they knew when one of the males fired gunshots at an eastside intersection, striking and ultimately killing a 7-year-old boy. They are now facing life in prison for their alleged crimes.

Erie County prosecutors are seeking first-degree murder convictions against the four suspects charged in the death of Antonio Yarger Jr., who was shot in the head as he walked with friends at Downing Avenue and Fairmount Parkway on the evening of April 14.

Antonio died four days later at a Pittsburgh hospital.

More:Four suspects now facing homicide charge in fatal shooting of 7-year-old boy in Erie

Prosecutors made their intentions known during the formal arraignments Wednesday afternoon for the four suspects. A first-degree murder conviction carries a maximum term of life in prison, Assistant District Attorney Steven Liboski said in court during the brief proceedings.

Two of the accused suspects, Abbas K. Al-Harbi, 17, and Yussuf M. Hassan, 21, stood before Erie County Judge John J. Mead for their arraignments with their lawyers. A third, Yassin A. Ibrahim, 20, appeared in court unrepresented but told Mead he is working to obtain a lawyer.

The accused shooter, Abdullah O. Ismael, 18, did not appear in court but was represented by his lawyer, Eric Hackwelder. Online court records list Ismael as being incarcerated in another county.

All four remain in prison without bond.

Mead set a trial date for May 19 and said he anticipated the four suspects being tried at the same time.

More:Two more suspects charged in killing of Erie boy; police say another person was targeted

None of the suspects said anything beyond answering Mead's questions about whether they had seen and understood the list of charges they face and the various deadlines associated with their upcoming trials.

A number of Antonio's family members were in Mead's courtroom for the proceedings Wednesday afternoon.

Disagreement with male led to search, shooting

Erie police accuse Ismael, who was 17 years old at the time of Antonio's death, of firing gunshots from the back of a sport utility vehicle driven by Ibrahim as Al-Harbi and Hassan were in another vehicle that had pulled into a nearby side street before the shooting happened.

According to testimony at the preliminary hearings for Ismael and Al-Harbi in late August, the four were at a Buffalo Road gas station on April 14 when they encountered someone they knew. Hassan and Ibrahim testified that the group then retrieved a gun and began looking for the person they had encountered, at one point going to the area of the person's house and contemplating shooting up the house.

The group continued cruising around looking for the person, at times in an SUV that was recently stolen from an address in Millcreek Township, before Ismael fired the shots at Downing Avenue and Fairmount Parkway, according to the testimony.

Raquel Coleman, center, mother of seven-year-old homicide victim Antonio Yarger Jr.
Raquel Coleman, center, mother of seven-year-old homicide victim Antonio Yarger Jr.  

Ibrahim told police that after the shooting, Ismael directed him to drive to the 1900 block of East 26th Street, where they entered some woods and left the gun and the shirts the two were wearing. The group later retrieved the gun, and it was broken into pieces and discarded by the group, according to Hassan's testimony at the August hearing.

Police never recovered the weapon.

More:Testimony: Group armed with stolen gun, looking for male when 7-year-old boy killed in Erie

It was not revealed in the criminal complaints filed against the four suspects or during testimony at the August preliminary hearing if the person the group was searching for was at the intersection where Antonio was shot.

Erie police detectives said they used surveillance video and other information, including witness statements and details from interviews with some of the suspects, to identify and charge the four in Antonio's death.

Contact Tim Hahn at thahn@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNhahn.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: 4 charged with 1st-degree murder in Antonio Yarger Jr. killing in Erie

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