Violent fugitive may still be in Shafter, but townfolk don’t seem especially worried


SHAFTER, Calif. (KGET) — People can generally assume they’re getting sound advice when law enforcement agencies tell them, by way of the news media, not to approach a criminal suspect or jail escapee, and to simply call 911.

But the Kern County Sheriff’s Department might have underlined this particular warning and added a few exclamation points.

Tyrone Deangelo Johnson is a seven-time felon and convicted gang member who stands accused of murdering 3-year-old Major Sutton in November 2017. He and two accomplices are accused of kicking in the door of the family’s residence and spraying the place with semi-automatic fire.

And unlike his fellow escapee, David Palms, he’s still on the loose — possibly in Shafter — having escaped from the Lerdo Pre-Trial Facility five days ago.

A murder suspect potentially in their midst might be a concern to some residents of this sleepy, generally safe town — but you wouldn’t know it Monday.

Vianna Nunez was shopping for cosmetics in downtown Shafter with her son Anthony when she was asked to consider the possibility of a criminal escapee in her town.

Shafter is not a good place to vanish, she said.

“There’s not much for them to hide in here,” she said. “It’s like — the almond trees and stuff, unless they’re in somebody’s backyard. There’s not much they can run to.”

Bharpur Brar, who has run Amigos Liquor on Central Avenue since 1994, said he has confidence in local law enforcement and isn’t worried about any dangerous fugitives.

“Shafter Police are number one,” he said. “They’re always helpful, every one.”

Shae Floyd isn’t particularly worried — even though the escape hit close to home. Literally. He says the two fugitives were captured on his grandparents’ security camera in the middle of the night in the white boxer shorts they escaped in. He was asleep. His grandparents, he said, turned over their security camera footage to law enforcement.

“One of them stole a tarp from our neighbors two doors down and then they ran through our backyard,” the Shafter retail clerk said. “We actually had them on our camera crossing the street. So that time about four or six cop cars coming in and reviewing our tape trying to get as much information as they can possibly get.”

A Shafter Police captain wouldn’t talk on camera but he did confirm that his agency responded recently to a residential burglary in Shafter that was turned over to the Sheriff’s Department for further investigation because, he said, it was part of an ongoing case of theirs.

He wouldn’t say if that investigation is related to the Lerdo escape, and the Sheriff’s department likewise declined to comment on that possibility.

So — a wanted gang member and accused murderer with multiple convictions related to firearms — on the loose. If that doesn’t warrant a warning to stay away, nothing does. But Shafter doesn’t seem especially worried about it.

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