Cleveland men indicted for committing armed carjackings around Ohio City, Tremont and Shaker Square and using one of the vehicles to steal firearms from a gun store in Streetsboro
Two Cleveland men were indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy with included committing armed carjackings around Ohio City, Tremont and Shaker Square and using one of the vehicles to steal firearms from a gun store in Streetsboro.
Zyshonne Austin and Ja’Quez Lyons, both 18, were indicted on one count of conspiracy, one count of theft from a federal firearms licensee, one count of carjacking and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence.
Austin faces an additional count of possession of a stolen firearm while Lyons faces additional counts of carjacking and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
A third man, James Luke, 18, of Cleveland, was indicted for his role in the Streetsboro gun store robbery.
Austin and Lyons beginning in April used firearms in armed carjackings. A man was getting out of his red Volkswagen Passat on Larchmere Avenue on April 14 when another man approached with a gun and demanded his car, while another man acted as a lookout, according to court documents.
The next day, on April 15, Austin, Lyons and Luke stole 10 firearms from Top Shot Firearms in Streetsboro. The suspects used an object to smash through glass display cases and steal the guns. Blood was found at the scene, according to court documents.
On April 16, Cleveland police officers responded to a call of shots fired near East 123rd Street and recovered the Volkswagen Passat. Inside the car they found price tags from the stolen firearms, some of which had blood on them, a rag with suspected blood on it, a hammer and a receipt from the McDonald’s at 3050 Carnegie Avenue from April 15, among other items.
On April 21, one of the stolen firearms was recovered from Austin after he was arrested following an attempted armed robbery and carjacking in the Ohio City neighborhood. Austin was arrested after he and another suspect fled after crashing the stolen Toyota IA near Kinsman Avenue. Austin had cuts on his hands, according to court documents.
Lyons on May 7 used a firearm to steal a 2016 Lincoln MKC. Following his arrest, a search of Lyons’ phone revealed Austin was one of 13 people listed as contacts and that Lyons had done numerous searches for gun stores, including Top Shot Firearms in Streetsboro, according to court documents.
The phone also included numerous text exchanges between Austin and Lyons discussing robbing the Streetsboro gun store, according to court documents.
DNA tests showed Austin’s blood matched the blood on the price tags of the stolen guns and blood on the hammer recovered in the stolen car. A search of Austin’s phone revealed numerous computer searches around the time of the robbery, including “Top Shot Firearms” and “gun store breakin (sic) Streetsboro,” according to court documents.
Austin also sent images of himself and others with the stolen firearms and in front of the stolen Volkswagen Passat, according to court documents.
This investigation is ongoing.
“These defendants pointed loaded guns at everyday people in our community and stole their cars, then used at least one of those stolen cars to drive to Portage County and hold up a gun store,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “Our community is safer with these predators behind bars. This case is also another demonstration of working with local police and prosecutors to target the worst of the worst.”
“ATF’s core mission is reducing violent gun crime in our communities,” said Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “Firearms theft involves violent acts where criminals distribute stolen firearms throughout our communities, which causes a growing wave of violence. ATF is committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to pursue those who steal firearms from licensed firearms dealers.”
“Taking violent, armed and dangerous offenders off of our streets is a service to our communities,” said Chief Calvin D. Williams of the Cleveland Division of Police. “I am always thankful for the strong law enforcement partnerships we have here in Northeast Ohio.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “These three stole numerous weapons and used those illegally obtained guns to violently terrorize people leaving work and visiting friends in our community. They had no regard for the safety and hard earned belongings of others and now must face the federal justice system and its consequences."
“This case highlights the partnership between law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, as we have a duty to work together to ensure the safety of the community,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
These cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Cleveland Division of Police, the FBI, the Streetsboro Police Department, the Twinsburg Police Department and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s Crime Strategies Unit. It is being prosecuted by Assistant. U.S. Attorney Kelly L. Galvin.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.