Photo by Theo Tate
Capt. Mike Dixon of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department (left) and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons speak to the media Friday outside the Madison City Fire Department.
MADISON — A Madison man was charged Friday with first-degree murder and obstructing justice in a shooting police say was drug-related.
In a press release, Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis investigators said James A. Moore, 23, of the 900 block of Grand Avenue, was charged in the death of Mitchell Coleman, 44, of East St. Louis. Madison police officers responded to a report of shots fired at approximately 1 p.m. Wednesday and found Coleman in his vehicle with at least 10 gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Madison County Coroner’s Office.
James Moore, 23, of Grand Avenue, was charged for two counts of first-degree murder and one felony count of obstructing justice. He's currently in custody with a $250,000 bond. The announcement was made during a press conference outside the Madison City Fire Department on Friday.
"Clearly, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones to the victim,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said. “It's an enormous loss for them and truly a tragedy. For all of the citizens of Madison and Madison County, this is something that we're not accustomed to. For that reason, we intend to hold this individual accountable to the highest degree."
The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis was activated to investigate the incident. For two days, the squad developed more than 50 leads which led them to a person of interest. Investigators from over 20 departments from the Metro East responded to assist.
"This case is another example of the importance of the major case squad for the St. Louis metropolitan region," Gibbons said. "It’s incredible work and dedication with long nights and no sleep. They never stop and they never get up. They never get a break and they never give up. In the end, they get their man. I can't say enough outstanding things and enough positive things about the work the deputy commander and his team has done in this case. We're enormously grateful to them for concluding this case with arrest and charges and giving us an opportunity for justice."
Major Case Squad investigators from approximately 20 departments developed more than 50 leads in the first two days, which led them to a person of interest. Investigators spoke with numerous witnesses, who reported a black man in a hooded sweatshirt approached Coleman’s vehicle and fired multiple rounds into it. Evidence at the scene indicated the suspect fired approximately 16 rounds into Coleman’s vehicle.
"The crime scene investigators recovered numerous rounds of the scene," Captain Mike Dixon of the Madison County Sheriff's Department said. "Investigators of the major case squad took it upon themselves to initiate the investigation and identify potential witnesses that were in the area. They were told that they were at least 5 to 10 people out in the street. One of the rounds went through a house. Several rounds hit the street and missed the car. Numerous people lives were in danger and the victim himself was talking to somebody at his driver side door. That subject avoided injury, fortunate for all of us.
"In speaking with the individuals that were present, they confirmed that a gunman in a hooded sweatshirt had approached the victim and pulled out a pistol and began firing into the vehicle. The subject fled from the scene back towards Madison Avenue. Police officers searched through that area and we weren't able to find him."
Dixon said the Major Case Squad investigators found Moore at a girlfriend's house in Venice.
Investigators arrested Moore Wednesday evening on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant. Moore was identified by one source as a possible suspect. In conducting interviews of Moore and others associated with the events, investigators developed probable cause to detain Moore for obstructing justice. As the investigation continued, additional evidence was developed identifying Moore as the lone gunman. Information developed during the investigation indicated the killing was motivated by narcotic-related activity.
"At the onset, there was an indication that potentially they thought the subject may been set up for this," Dixon said. "Clearly this is kind of an ambush, almost an assassination type of attack. I don't believe Mr. Coleman saw it coming. His passenger window was up and it was heavy tint on the window. I don't believe he even saw the gunman come up to the side of the car.
"Through the investigation, I would have to say that none of that has been substantiated. This was something that was premeditated, calculated and planned and it appears to be based upon without giving too many details on statements provided that the suspect had some discontent for the victim and saw him in the area, retrieved a gun and attacked him."
The facts of the case were presented to the Madison County State’s Attorney's Office, which prepared a warrant and information against Moore for two felony counts of first-degree murder and one felony count of obstructing justice. The warrant and information was signed and issued by Judge Kyle Napp, who set Moore’s bond at $250,000.
Anyone still having information pertaining to the investigation is encouraged to contact the Major Case Squad at (618) 876-7296 or the Madison Police Department at (618) 876-4300.