Police have arrested two men in connection with the June 14 murder of Austin resident Aaron Dickens. Dickens died of gunshot wounds following a shooting in the 5100 block of Ferdinand last Tuesday. The 35-year-old local music producer, who had worked with a number of rap and rhythm & blues artists, was killed after attempting to intervene in an argument involving his 32-year-old nephew and several other men. Those men, including area resident Maurice Bryant and Southsider Melvin Jordan, came to the 5100 block of West Ferdinand to settle a dispute related to an earlier traffic altercation, according to police spokesperson Laura West.
Both men have been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery.
Bryant, 31, who lived three blocks from the scene of the killing, in the 4800 block of West Ferdinand, has two prior drug convictions, and was out on parole on a Criminal Trespass conviction. Police said that both he and Jordan are members of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang although Bryant also sports a tattoo that indicates membership in the Conservative Vice Lords, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Jordan, 28, from Chicago’s South Side, was out on parole after serving three years of a 7-year sentence for three armed robbery convictions in 2000.
In another possible gang-related incident, an Austin man crashed his sport-utility vehicle into the Columbus Park fieldhouse early Thursday after being fatally shot, police said. Robert Johnson, 21, of the 100 block of South Central Avenue was shot at 1:40 a.m. in the 5600 block of West Adams, just east of Columbus Park while driving his Ford Explorer. Police said Johnson was caught in an exchange of gunfire from several men in another vehicle. After being hit, he crossed Central Avenue and a parkway on the west side of the street, crashed through a wrought iron fence and into the eastern brick wall of the Columbus Park fieldhouse, where police found him slumped over the steering wheel. He was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police were continuing to investigate the killing, though no suspects were in custody as of Tuesday, West said.
Sources in the department could not confirm if the upsurge in armed violence is related to recent successes against several street corner drug operations. However, the uptick in violence has attracted the focus of top police brass.
“We are currently receiving considerable assistance,” said 15th District Commander Eugene Williams Tuesday. That response, he said, includes, officers from TRU, or Tactical Response Unit, as well as targeted gun and gang response teams, said Williams.