Affidavit: Woman shot in face, man paralyzed in double shooting on 25th Street
photo by: Sara Shepherd
First, Tommy J. May pistol-whipped Marzetta Yarbrough on the head twice, she told police. Next he told her, “Now I’m going to finish you.”
Then May allegedly shot her in the face.
May, 58, is charged with attempted murder in the July 2 double shooting that injured Yarbrough and a man who lived next door to May at 713 W. 25th St.
An affidavit prepared by police in support of May’s arrest describes what victims and other eyewitnesses say transpired at the four-unit apartment building that night. The Journal-World requested and, on Monday, received the document from Douglas County District Court. Statements in an affidavit have not been proved in court.
According to the affidavit:
Yarbrough said she used to live next door to May. That night, she’d been to the grocery store and stopped by May’s place to get a ride home so she didn’t have to carry her groceries.
She said the two of them ate some cake May had made.
Yarbrough went outside, briefly bickered with a woman next door, then went back into May’s apartment and sat down.
May told Yarbrough, “I’m tired of you (expletive),” referring to the women, before hitting her with the butt of the gun and shooting her. Yarbrough ran out of the apartment, down the stairs, through the parking lot and hid in some bushes.
After hearing the gunshot and Yarbrough screaming, next-door neighbor Jeremy Cochise Jones confronted May outside and said something to the effect of, “Tommie, no, that’s my friend.”
Then May allegedly shot Jones.
Witnesses said May left the scene in a green SUV.
Arriving police found Yarbrough in the bushes, bleeding and unable to speak. A blood trail led up the stairs to May’s front door — through which police forced their way in to check for other victims, but found none — and continued to the middle of the apartment.
photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
Officers found Jones outside in the parking lot. He’d been shot once in the torso, and the bullet destroyed two of his vertebrae, causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.
Jones was uncooperative with detectives, but medical staff at the University of Kansas hospital shared information about his injuries with police.
The bullet that hit Yarbrough went through her left cheek, then traveled downward, piercing her shoulder and exiting her body through her back.
When police first tried to interview Yarbrough on July 3 at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, she couldn’t speak or write. She could nod yes or no, and when asked who shot her she used a keyboard to type “TOMMIE.” Two days later, police were able to conduct their verbal interview with Yarbrough, still hospitalized.
May stands charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Yarbrough and attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Jones, according to the complaint filed in Douglas County District Court. May also is charged with criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He is jailed on $500,000 bond.
After the shooting, he was arrested after a reportedly violent confrontation with Lawrence police, although no charges related to that had been filed Monday.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating that incident because it involved a Lawrence Police Department officer discharging his gun. It is believed that gunfire hit the suspect, according to the KBI.
KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood told the Journal-World last week that such investigations typically take four to eight weeks.
“This of course can vary depending on the circumstances of the incident and the caseloads of our agents,” she said in an email. “Additionally, other components key to the investigation such as the forensic analysis of evidence … often take much longer to complete and are dependent on additional variables.”
She said the KBI would then give its investigation to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for review.
According to the same affidavit:
The shooting occurred just after 9:30 p.m., and just after 9:35 p.m. Lawrence Police Department Sgt. R. Neff saw a dark green GMC Jimmy registered to May and initiated a car stop near West 21st and Louisiana streets. But the suspect allegedly drove into the sergeant’s patrol vehicle, disabling it, and drove off.
His SUV came to rest in the 500 block of West 22nd Street and the driver ran, but officers surrounding the area captured him.
Police found a semi-automatic handgun at 21st and Louisiana streets, with a round in the chamber that looked like at least one spent casing found at the scene.
The affidavit says one of the first officers to arrive on the scene knew May from “a previous contact” and knew he’d served prison time for past felonies, including aggravated robbery, in another Kansas county. The affidavit doesn’t elaborate on past encounters with Lawrence police, and May doesn’t have previous criminal charges in Douglas County District Court.