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ShotSpotter, Database Credited with Finding Shooting Suspect

The gunshot detection technology alerted police to two of three Jacksonville, Fla., shootings. From there an ATF database linked shell casings found at the scenes to a legally purchased handgun.

Every gun used in a crime has a story, a suspect and a victim, Sheriff Mike Williams said.

Shell casings and the investment in new technology are telling some those stories, leading to new murder charges in two cases against a 21-year-old man already behind bars in attempted murder, Williams said.

Jamin Lamar Tolliver of West 14th Street was initially charged March 6 with attempted murder and armed robbery after a 33-year-old man was shot in the neck Feb. 1 on Barnett Street, according to his arrest report. On March 25, police added a second-degree murder charge, then another one Wednesday, according to jail records.

Jacksonville's ShotSpotter system, which targets gunshots in crime-ridden parts of town, led officers to two of those shootings. Then investigators used the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) to track spent shells found at all three crime scenes to a handgun legally purchased by Tolliver, Williams said.

"This case illustrates how critical technologies that our city leadership has invested in these past few years are getting the anticipated results, and getting those results fast," the sheriff said.

This a "remarkable" day as the synergy of these technologies did what they had envisioned, said State Attorney Melissa Nelson.

"A year ago these would have been three separate cases at the state lab, worked by three separate teams," she said. "And for months those teams would not have appreciated the linkages among these cases. That makes all the difference both in taking the shooter off the street very quickly, and in the prosecution of these cases as we go forward."

The city's ShotSpotter system alerted officers to a 2:15 a.m. Jan. 25 homicide on Barnett Street, where 44-year-old Philip Lanear Gardner was found dead in the roadway from gunshot wounds, police said. No one called 9-1-1, and there were no witnesses, Williams said.

But firing a gun leaves unique markings on its shell casings. Those found on Barnett Street were sent to the Sheriff's Office firearms laboratory to be run through NIBIN's database of spent bullet and cartridge case images from thousands of other law enforcement agencies.

Then at 1:45 a.m. Feb. 1, ShotSpotter heard six gunshots at another section of Barnett Street, according to police. That 33-year-old survivor was found with multiple gunshot wounds and told investigators he had seen a red vehicle fleeing the area after he was shot, Tolliver's arrest report said. Again, no one called 9-1-1 to report the shooting, but shell casings were found and sent to the Sheriff's Office laboratory for NIBIN review.

"Within one business day, the casings from this shooting were linked to the murder from the week before," Williams said. "Additionally, our detectives and analysts were able to determine the shooting had been captured via a camera from our RealTime Crime Center and a physical description of our suspect was obtained."

Then at 8 a.m. Feb. 6, a co-worker found 42-year-old Tom Wesley Daniels shot dead in his home on West 23rd Street, police said. Neighbors did report hearing gunshots earlier that morning, while shell casings linked to the previous shootings.

"In the course of just 13 days, the same gun had been used in three separate violent shooting incidents. Detectives working these three cases coordinated their efforts, and added evidence was processed," Williams said.

Detectives found more evidence that led to Tolliver, and a March 4 search warrant served at his home found a gun "forensically matched" to the shell casings in all three shootings, Williams said. Two days later, Tolliver was arrested.

Williams said they don't know if anything ties the victims together.

©2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.