Erie police learned shortly after a 13-year-old city boy was shot several times in an eastside neighborhood at about 9:25 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2020, that the suspects accused of firing the shots were in a white Honda.
Detectives would spend months obtaining and piecing together bits of surveillance video from around the city in an effort to track the Honda's movements before and after the shooting.
That work eventually helped lead police to identify and charge two suspects in the killing of Kasir Gambill.
James I. Garcia, 17, and Deangelo Troop Jr. 16, were arraigned Thursday night on criminal homicide and other charges in the death of Kasir, who was shot in the area of East 20th Street and Franklin Avenue as he and a 17-year-old walked from a relative's house on the evening of Dec. 5, 2020. Both suspects were 15 years old at the time of the shooting.
Kasir died of his injuries at a Pittsburgh hospital 10 days later.
Kasir Gambill death: Erie police charge two teens, then 15 years old, in 2020 killing of 13-year-old Erie boy
The 17-year-old who was with Kasir told investigators that the occupants of a white Honda that had passed the pair and then turned around and approached them opened fire on them as Kasir and the 17-year-old ran off, according to information in criminal complaints filed in the case. The 17-year-old was not injured in the shooting.
With that vehicle information, Detective Sgt. Matthew Berarducci and Detective Ira Bush began searching for security cameras in the area that might have captured footage of the shooting. They located video that showed two suspects with handguns exiting the Honda. Muzzle flashes are seen and gunfire is heard on the video, according to information in the complaints.
Detectives then began the challenging task of trying to figure out the Honda's route before and after Kasir was shot.
"We've done that in multiple cases, where detectives actually go up to a crime scene and start tracing routes they believe suspects may have taken," said Deputy Chief Rick Lorah, who oversees the Erie Bureau of Police Criminal Investigation Division. "While doing that, they start to note cameras in the area and sometimes multiple routes, and detectives go around those routes and retrieve footage."
The work has been successful in other cases.
In one notable case, Erie police detectives investigating a hit-and-run pedestrian crash on Buffalo Road that killed 6-year-old Nyon Warren in April 2019 pieced together numerous video clips from throughout east Erie to determine the child was hit by a van belonging to a child care center. The accused driver, 62-year-old Sebarundi Yohana, pleaded no contest in June 2021 to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in prison.
More:Erie hit-and-run: No-contest plea to manslaughter; 18- 36 months for crash that killed boy
Tracing a route
In the homicide case, investigators learned that Troop had borrowed a white Honda Civic from a relative in the area of East Fifth and State streets on the night of the shooting and returned the car to that location about 45 minutes later, according to information in the complaints.
Police learned from video from cameras at two locations in the area of East Fifth and State streets that the Honda traveled east on East Fifth Street shortly after 9 p.m., then turned south on German Street, detectives wrote in the complaints.
About 15 minutes later, according to the complaints, a white Honda Civic is captured on video traveling through the area of East 18th and Thompson streets.
Additional video revealed that - at about 10 minutes after the shooting - a light-colored sedan arrived in the 300 block of East 11th Street, and two people got out and approached a residence on the south side of the street. The location is consistent with Garcia's residence at the time, detectives wrote in the complaints.
One person later returned to the car and left the area, according to police. Video obtained and reviewed from six other locations showed the vehicle traveling west on East 11th Street, north on Holland Street, and east on East Fifth Street to the area where the white Honda was first taken, according to information in the complaints.
Lorah said it's a time-consuming process to try and trace a suspect vehicle's movements through video. Detectives will obtain surveillance video and review it, and once they spot the vehicle they are looking for in a clip they return to the area to try to determine its prior movements and locate video to support their theory.
"The process keeps going on and on," he said. "It's just a lot of surveillance, a lot of time going over that footage, gathering new information."
Lorah said the investigation into Kasir's death never went cold, but it took a lot more time to hunt down and review video.
"It's a pretty exhaustive effort, but it's worked in many high-profile cases over the last few years. The guys have done an amazing job basically being able to trace suspects and vehicles across the city," he said.
The Erie Bureau of Police has a large database of security camera locations in the city, and adds new cameras to that list every day, Lorah said.
"Obviously when we have a crime in an area and we know where the cameras are," Lorah said.
The Erie County District Attorney's Office is also keeping tabs on security cameras.
As part of its new website, ErieDA.org, the office has created a registry where residents and property owners can register their name, location and type of security camera. The information will not be made public but will be provided to law enforcement agencies for help in investigations, District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz said.
"We are trying to cut down on the police time for canvassing," Hirz said in June.
Do you have a security camera? Erie County DA wants to know, to help police
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Kasir Gambill shooting: Erie Police use video to track down suspects