- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Homicide charges have been filed against a Wilkes-Barre man for his alleged involvement in the deadly shooting of a 33-year-old man on Saturday.

Khalil Brathwaite, 19, is charged with one count of criminal homicide for allegedly shooting Jason Canty of Scranton at New Alexander Street in South Wilkes-Barre. He turned himself in Monday afternoon, a day after police got a warrant for his arrest, and requested an attorney.

Magisterial District Judge Martin R. Kane ordered him jailed without bail pending a preliminary hearing Aug. 4. Brathwaite declined to comment as investigators led him from the courtroom.

“We’re just happy that we’ve made a fast arrest on this, to get another individual off the street that has harmed someone and taken his life,” Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said after the hearing.

Salavantis said investigators do not believe the shooting was drug-related, but she declined to comment on the motive for the shooting, which took place outside the apartment of a woman with whom Brathwaite has a child. Brathwaite and Canty had “friendly connections” in the past, Salavantis said.

“They knew each other,” she said. “This was not a random event.”

According to a search warrant filed late Sunday evening, three 911 calls were received just before midnight: two reporting shots fired and one reporting a gunshot victim.

Canty was found by officers laying face-up in the front yard of 74 New Alexander St. with a gunshot wound to his head.

Police said they thought the victim’s life was “in grave danger” and requested paramedics to expedite their response. He was transported via ambulance to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.

One witness at the scene said Brathwaite ran away from the area where the shots were fired, police said.

Police said a second witness told officials that he and Canty arrived at 74 New Alexander St. together in Canty’s car, where they both got out of the car and began walking toward the residence.

The witness told police that he saw Brathwaite strike up a conversation with Canty outside of the apartment. Without warning, Brathwaite allegedly fired several shots toward the victim and struck him in the head at least once, according to an affidavit.

A trauma surgeon told police that the victim sustained a non-survivable gunshot wound to the head and had no spontaneous brain function.

Canty was removed from life support and pronounced dead at 4:29 p.m. Sunday. An autopsy performed Monday morning by forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross found that the manner of death was a homicide caused by a single gunshot wound to the head.

An outside perspective

At the scene of the shooting Monday morning, the street was quiet. No one answered the door of the New Alexander Street apartment in front of which the shooting took place. The apartment is listed as being occupied by Vanessa Carmenatty, the mother of Brathwaite’s child.

Next door, neighbor June Husty said she had just gone to bed when she heard two gunshots ring out. When she went downstairs and looked outside, she saw police swarming the street and a man down on the sidewalk.

“I was scared to death,” she said.

Although Husty didn’t know the people involved in the shooting, she said the occupants of the apartment building next door have drawn her attention before.

“They’re wild. I know they’re wild. I always hear noises over there,” Husty said. “This is really a bad neighborhood anymore. It was so peaceful and nice.”

There was no answer at Brathwaite’s door Monday morning. A man on the property who identified himself as the landlord said he was checking on things after hearing from neighbors that police had been there in force on Sunday.

The man, who declined to give his name, said Brathwaite has lived in the Brown Street apartment with his mother for about a year. The mother works an overnight shift as a call-taker, and the landlord said he never had any trouble with Brathwaite, who he described as appearing polite, respectful and clean-cut.

“He just doesn’t seem like that type of a hostile individual,” the landlord said. “His mother’s very polite too. Very nice lady.”

Prior criminal history

Brathwaite, a 2014 graduate of GAR High School, found himself in handcuffs earlier this year when he allegedly opened fire on a car full of people outside of his Brown Street home.

Charges stemmed from the incident on Jan. 9 in which he was involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, Brea Seabrook.

According to court documents, police said he choked Seabrook after an argument, which resulted in a search party for Brathwaite by the victim’s brother and four other men.

During the search, contact was made between the parties when Brathwaite told the victim’s brother to stay away and threatened to shoot them, police said. The five men agreed to turn around, but not before Brathwaite fired a shot at the vehicle they were driving, according to police. There were no reported injuries.

Brathwaite was released from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on Feb. 3 after a professional bondsman posted $30,000 bail.

In a March preliminary hearing it that case, a felony charge of aggravated assault and misdemeanor charges of recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and simple assault were withdrawn.

A Wilkes-Barre police officer at the hearing declined to comment as to why the charges were dropped.

Brathwaite was formally arraigned in county court on the remaining charge of propelling missiles into an occupied vehicle, court documents show. A summary charge of harassment was moved to a non-traffic citation.

Brathwaite is scheduled to appear in county court on Sept. 8 for the January incident.

Court documents show that Canty had no criminal history in Pennsylvania, but had a single non-traffic citation for disorderly conduct.

[email protected]

570-821-2061, @CVcljacobson

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570-821-2058, @cvjimhalpin

This incident is the fourth fatal shooting in Wilkes-Barre since the beginning of the year. Three of the fatalities were ruled homicides.

n April 1: Jason Khaleen-Rowe, 25, of New York City was allegedly shot and killed by Delroy Toomer, 25, of Wilkes-Barre as he and Toomer removed guns from a vehicle on South Street. Toomer, who told police the shooting was an accident, faces misdemeanor charges of carrying a firearm without a license and tampering with evidence.

n April 3: Peter Bielecki Jr., 49, was found dead inside his home at 70 Carey Ave. An autopsy on April 6 determined that Bielecki’s manner of death was a homicide, caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

n May 1: Donald Bachman Jr., 49, was shot and killed in front of his home at 62 Willow St. on his way home from work as a mechanic for Martz. His death was ruled a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

n July 25: Jason Canty, 33, was shot in the head in front of 74 New Alexander St. He was pronounced dead on Sunday. An autopsy performed Monday found the manner of death was homicide caused by a single gunshot wound to the head. Police charged Khalil Brathwaite, 19, with criminal homicide for his alleged involvement in the shooting.

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(c)2015 The Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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