Again in custody, escapee charged with 3-year-old’s homicide returns to court docket tomorrow

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (KGET) – The chase that resulted in Tyrone Johnson, 24, being returned to custody began with police keeping an eye on a house in East Bakersfield.

“Officers were monitoring an apartment connected to Mr. Johnson,” said Bakersfield Police Sergeant Robert Pair. “They watched a person leave the apartment and get into the vehicle.”

Pair said based on the man’s physical appearance, officials believed it was likely Johnson and tried to overtake him. But Johnson, who was behind the wheel, allegedly led police on a chase down River Boulevard before encountering a parked car on Bernard Street, an intersection cornered by Jefferson Park. According to BPD, Johnson and 23-year-old Bruce Davis were both arrested after trying to escape on foot and a loaded gun was found in the car.

That ended a 55-day manhunt for Johnson, who is accused of killing three-year-old Major Sutton in an apartment on Pershing Street. In 2017, he and co-defendant David Palms allegedly opened fire in the child’s home, killing him and injuring his mother and brother.

Pair said no one has yet been arrested or charged with helping Johnson, but the investigation is ongoing.

“This is something that we look at and are very aware of,” said Pair.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office had worked to recapture Johnson after his escape from prison, with BPD and the U.S. marshals involved in tracking down Johnson. Youngblood said it was hard to “accept” the escape, especially after it took Johnson and Palms months to catch after Major Sutton’s murder.

“Children touch our hearts and this has been such a disastrous event not only for us but also for the community. “Said Youngblood.

During the April 18 prison break, court documents state that Palms and Johnson broke through the ceiling of their cell, got on the roof, and hit the floor with a nearby flagpole. A “silent” count of sleeping inmates was defeated by dummies left in their bunk beds to trick the guards into believing they were still in the cell. Youngblood described the incident as “embarrassing”.

“It made me angry,” said Youngblood. “And it made the staff angry.”

Youngblood said the pole had been moved to a new location, farther from the roof. In a review of the facility’s potential shortcomings, Youngblood said construction workers were “surprised” that inmates managed to cut through the cell’s steel. The sheriff also asked why they had access to certain items found in the cell, why their cell was not searched more often, and why they were even held together despite a previous escape attempt.

“The truth is, if we’d done our job right, they could have been in a box and wouldn’t have gotten away,” said Youngblood. The sheriff said there are “consequences” for people who do not do their jobs, but was unable to provide any further details on protecting employee privacy.

Along with the investigation, BPD and Youngblood said the agencies received tips from the community about Johnson’s post-escape activities.

“We rely largely on interaction with the community for information,” said Pair. “Investigators have left no stone unturned in their efforts to locate Mr. Johnson, and the good policing of both our allied authorities and our investigators has raised his concern.”

Johnson and Davis are due to appear in court tomorrow on new charges related to the persecution and, in Johnson’s case, jailbreak. Because of Major Sutton’s assassination, Johnson and Palms have scheduled a hearing on July 16.

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