Teen linked to Columbus crimes has Dayton criminal past

Devonere Simmonds, 17, and Nathaniel Brunner, 18, have been taken back to Columbus after being apprehended in Dayton over the weekend. They were transported to Columbus from the Montgomery County jail around 1:15 p.m. Monday.

A Montgomery County Juvenile Court official said Simmonds had been locked up and put on probation for an aggravated robbery and for carrying a concealed weapon. He was first put on probation in Montgomery County in May of 2012 and most recently was locked up from February to May of this year after his case was transferred to Franklin County.

Officials said a state trooper who dropped off the suspects minutes before they allegedly shot a man and stole his car was placed on administrative leave on Monday morning.

Jeffery Shane, a 29-year veteran of the state patrol, will remain on leave while the incident is investigated.

The suspects were found sleeping inside a car with the engine running at the rear alley area of 38 Wroe Ave. at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The two are suspected to have been involved in a carjacking and near-fatal shooting earlier Saturday morning in Madison County, west of Columbus. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has confirmed it started when Shane picked up the teens just minutes before the shooting and apparently had dropped them off at the TA truck stop on I-70.

Lt. Anne Ralston of the OSP said standard operating procedure would be for a trooper to pat down anyone being given a ride and run their names through state databases. It would appear that wasn’t done.

Within five minutes of the trooper dropping off the suspects, one of the two teens is suspected of firing a shot into the head of a man pumping gas, and then taking his car.

The man was fueling his vehicle at the TA truck stop at I-70 and U.S. 42 about 4:50 a.m. Saturday when two black males approached him. The man, whose name has not been released, resisted, said deputies.

“This is a very serious situation and we are investigating it thoroughly,” Ralston said. Other authorities said the two men had been walking along the interstate ramp at Rt. 42 and I-70 near the truck stop and that’s where the state trooper had contact with them.

Columbus police believe the teens are connected to three homicides in the metro area within the last week. The crime spree began last Sunday with the shooting of two victims on Lilley Avenue in Columbus. One victim died and the other remains in critical condition. Then on Wednesday, police say the pair shot and killed a clerk at a carry out store.

Simmonds was charged in that shooting death Wednesday of Imran Ashgar, 34, at the Convenient Plus Food Mart at 1475 E. Livingston Ave., after he was identified in surveillance video of the incident, police said.

Late Friday night, authorities charged Brunner with that same shooting death.

Simmonds mother told authorities that he confessed to her that he was also involved in a double shooting last Sunday. And he also is wanted for questioning in connection with the shooting death of Lamont Frazier, 17, who was shot hours after Ashgar in the same neighborhood.

There were several witnesses as well as surveillance video at the travel plaza where the teens shot the man and stole his car Saturday morning. The car was identified as a 2006 Dodge Magnum.

The suspects had family or friends at the home in Dayton where they were located early Saturday morning, Columbus police said.

Columbus police also said prosecutors will determine whether Simmonds will be charged as an adult.

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