Darren Seals was killed late into the night of September 5th, really more early morning September 6th in a parking lot in Riverview in north St. Louis. Seals’ death excited comment because he had been a Ferguson activist and of the circumstances of his death. He had been shot to death and left in a burning car, an unusual form of death, clearly a homicide.
Immediately questions were raised. Black Lives Matter folks, always looking for a way to exploit even in death, suggested he had been killed by police. Questions were raised about the enmity that the Black Lives Matter folks themselves held toward Darren Seals since he called them out for their exploitation and was working to follow the money.
But in looking at the case, I realized something else was unusual, that six men in total had in fact been shot to death and left in their burning cars. BLM began spreading names of the men without the backgrounds of the cases, suggesting thereby that someone was mysteriously killing black men.
In addition to Seals, there was Darnell Robinson (Sept 4 2014), Antonio Jones (Nov 2014), DeAndre Joshua (Nov 2014), Terrell Beasley (Dec 2014), and Vinnie Cascella (Feb 2015).
Darnell Robinson,24, was killed in September 2014. His alleged killers were actually caught. 3 men, Dylan Irizarry, Dana Wallace and Bryant Evans, were charged with murder in the case.
A witness and surveillance footage put Wallace and Evans in the car with Robinson “immediately before his death,” according to court documents. Wallace and Evans then got out and entered a Dodge Durango. Later the Dodge Durango returned and Irizarry got out of the truck with a can of gasoline, which he used to set the car on fire, according to charges.
Here’s Irizarry allegedly setting fire to the car.
Antonio Jones, 43, from Ferguson was shot twice in the abdomen and found in the trunk of a burning car in East St. Louis. Police were looking for a person of interest in that case.
DeAndre Joshua was killed November 2014 the same night the grand jury decided no charges against Darren Wilson. There were rumors that he had been a grand jury witness, but both his family and the prosecutors said he had not been involved, that in fact, he had been nowhere nearby when Mike Brown was killed. The only connection was that he had been friends with Dorian Johnson, Mike Brown’s companion that night and ran in the same crowd as Johnson and Brown.
Terrell Beasley’s death was related to a drug ring. He took a shot at an off-duty cop, who shot back at him, allegedly killing him. He was later found in a burning car. Dominic Irons was arrested and charged in the case.
Vinnie Cascella,24, was killed around 3:15 a.m. in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. While Cascella was shot in the head, his car set on fire, he broke pattern in that he was white. He was on his way to a Mardi Gras music festival.
Was Darren Seals death connected to the prior deaths? An alleged witness account circulating but unconfirmed on Twitter describes a story much like the first death, Darnell Robinson. 3 men in the car, then coming back and setting it on fire.
Darren Seals had been stopped by police in June. Police told him that someone had reported him for having drugs, obviously to mess with him, and according to Seals, warned him that he needed to “chose his enemies wisely”. Some have interpreted that as a threat from the police, but if it was said, it could as well be a warning that someone was out to get him. As we noted he had earned enemies from the BLM for questioning them. He had no apparent connection on record to drugs. He had previously been shot in 2013.
Are these all connected? Police have said they see no relation between the cases. Not all the cases are being looked at by the same department, since some are in different police department areas.
Certainly some, notably the Robinson case and the Beasley case seem to scream gang/drug related. The person of interest in the Jones case, Hairl T. Johnson, has a drug record.
Where do Seals, Joshua and Cascella fit in, if they fit in? They all were killed in the late night, early morning. And whoever killed them thought that burning the car would destroy evidence, likely the evidence of the killer being in the car.
We can’t give you an answer as to whether Seals’ death fits this pattern or even if any of these cases are related. All that is clear is that someone or more than one person are shooting victims, with the accompaniment of burning the cars.