The Mobile man charged criminally after a bullet he fired at a fleeing robbery suspect accidentally struck a nearby home was found shot to death over the weekend — less than two weeks after his prompt arrest drew criticism locally.
According to the Mobile Police Department, Tyrone Taylor, 23, was found deceased near the 4000 block of Cresthaven Road shortly after 2:51 a.m. Sunday morning. An MPD spokeswoman said officers were responding to reports of shots fired in the area when Taylor’s body was found.
So far, very few details have been released about circumstances of Taylor’s death, though police in Mobile have confirmed that they’re investigating the matter as a homicide.
Taylor had been in the local spotlight after reports of his arrest on Oct. 24 went public. Charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, his arrest stemmed from a robbery that occurred at the Citgo gas station on Riverside Drive in Mobile on Oct. 18.
That night, an unidentified store clerk opened fire on 26-year-old Joseph Soutullo, who police later charged in connection with the actual robbery. However, when the clerk opened fire, the bullet missed Soutullo and accidentally struck a 15-year-old girl standing just outside the store.
Taylor told police he was standing in the Citgo parking lot when he saw Soutullo leave the store holding what appeared to be a handgun, though police later identified it as a BB gun. He told police he’d heard a gunshot inside the store but thought it was a robber shooting at the clerk.
According to statements Taylor made to WPMI after his arrest, he had opened fire after Soutullo had reportedly “come running up with the gun and ran around [his] car.” Police claim Soutullo was already running away on foot when Taylor opened fire.
Either way, the bullet missed its target, sailing past Soutullo and into an adjacent home, where it penetrated a door and struck a television in an unoccupied living room. Six days later, Taylor was arrested and charged him with discharging a gun into an occupied building.There were several who questioned the decision to arrest Taylor when the store clerk, who hasn’t been identified by MPD, also used a weapon against Soutullo during the robbery but wasn’t charged after his stray bullet sent a 15-year-old bystander to the emergency room.
Police deferred all questions about the decision to charge Taylor immediately to Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich, who offered little explanation as to why the clerk’s case was being presented to a grand jury to determine if charges are warranted and Taylor’s wasn’t.
When asked, Rich mentioned Taylor had a prior criminal record but did not clarify how that impacted the decision to charge him. As for the clerk’s case, Rich’s only elaborated to say that it would “be presented to the grand jury … because it will be presented to the grand jury.”
So far, police haven’t identified any suspect or motive related to Taylor’s killing in the early hours of Sunday morning. When asked if the death could be related to the incident at the Citgo gas station, an MPD spokeswoman told Lagniappe that detectives “don’t know at this time.”
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