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Facial Recognition Links Pennsylvania Man to Texas Shooting

A lengthy investigation that involved scouring surveillance videos and using facial recognition software connected a Harrisburg man to the shooting death of a Houston truck driver, court records state.

(TNS) — A lengthy investigation that involved scouring surveillance videos and using facial-recognition software connected a 29-year-old Harrisburg man to the shooting death of a Houston truck driver, court records state.

And the shooting may have stemmed from an argument in a parking lot near a Harrisburg club earlier that March night, investigators say.

Tyree R. Smith is now facing criminal homicide and firearms-related charges in connection with the March 6 shooting of 26-year-old Christopher “CJ” Hill, a truck driver from Houston who was under contract with Sygma and staying at a local hotel through the end of the summer.

According to charging documents filed by Harrisburg police Officer Edwin Powell, Hill was driving a red Nissan Altima with a truck-driver friend as a passenger around 11:40 p.m. that night when someone in another car behind them fired shots into their vehicle, hitting Hill in the back of the head. Hill died after six days in the hospital.

Hill’s friend told the police the two had been at the S Club on the 2900 block of North Seventh Street. Hill asked his friend for his keys, left the club and came back about 20 minutes later. The two then left, with Hill driving after saying his friend had too much to drink.

They headed north on Seventh Street, then Hill turned around and headed south, and Hill’s friend asked him to turn into a parking lot and stop at the club so he could get a woman’s phone number.

They got the number and continued south, turning onto Division Street, and that’s when they heard gunfire, the friend told police.

Hill, who was shot, drove into a tree. His friend told police both had 9-mm handguns in the car. He loaded his to make sure there was no additional threat, then two people then stopped to help and called 911.

Another driver who was out that night told police that he witnessed part of the incident. He saw the car Hill was driving and saw the car that followed directly behind him, nearly bumper to bumper, when he heard the gunshots and saw the muzzle flash, court documents state.

As part of the investigation, police starting gathering surveillance video from nearby businesses. Piecing it together, they say the videos showed the chase, with a dark-colored car traveling behind Hill. Another video showed Hill crashing into the tree.

But prior to the shooting, yet another video showed Hill and his friend returning the parking lot near the club on North Seventh Street. It also showed Hill’s friend getting out of the car and heading to the S Club, where he had told police he was going to get a phone number.

When the friend got back to the parking lot, the video showed Hill in an argument with a group of people who were gesturing towards Hill and his friend, as if they were telling them to leave, charging documents state.

After Hill and his friend left, the same video showed two men getting into a Chrysler 300, which police say was the car that followed.

Both the driver and passenger of the following car were clearly visible in a video, police say, and the driver was identified through a confidential informant as Charles Anderson, according to police. Investigators say they confirmed this using facial-recognition software, comparing images from Anderson’s Instagram page to the video.

Anderson had been picked up by the Swatara Township police on a simple assault warrant, court documents state, and when police interviewed Anderson three days after Hill’s death and told him about the video, Anderson would not talk to them, investigators say.

It was through a state parole officer that Harrisburg police were able to identify Smith as the passenger in the Chrysler believed to be involved in the shooting, court records state.

Police again used facial-recognition software, comparing a photo of Smith from his girlfriend’s Facebook page to the video, court records state.

The parole officer had information that Smith was in possession of a firearm, records state, prompting police to visit the parole address listed for Smith. During a search of the home, they found a 9-mm handgun, court records state. Police had found nine .357 Sig spent shell casings and one 9-mm shell casing at the scene of the shooting.

While Smith’s girlfriend said it was her gun, police said in court documents that when they questioned Smith about the shooting, he asked for an attorney.

A warrant was soon issued for Smith’s arrest.

Smith had a preliminary arraignment Tuesday and was denied bail. He is set for a preliminary hearing Aug. 25.

Hill’s family spoke to PennLive earlier this year, saying Hill was saving money to buy his own semi-truck and eventually wanted to own his own trucking company.

“He didn’t deserve this at all,” his father, Daiquiri Hill, previously said. “That’s my son and my best friend at the same time. That’s what I lost.”

Hill was known as a go-getter among family and friends. His family said he had a passion for airplanes which led him to take flying lessons and attend the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Houston.

He owned his own townhouse in Houston and enjoyed cooking meals for friends, according to his family.

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