Temple news conference

U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer, left, speaks during a Wednesday news conference at the Temple Police Department. Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds, center, and Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis also are seen.

Belton resident Redrick Robinson was shot and killed in his bedroom in 2017. This case was Belton’s only unsolved homicide — until this week.

“In Belton, for three years, a family has suffered and grieved the loss of their loved one,” Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis said Wednesday. “We were finally able to tell them that justice is coming for his son and all the children of that victim.”

Law enforcement officials announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury indicted suspects who were part of the Temple-based gang Killas With Aggression — a group that reportedly committed several violent crimes between 2017 and 2018 throughout Central Texas.

The indictment alleges that five suspects conspired to commit five murders — including three in Temple and one each in Belton and Hearne; violent assault; drug trafficking; extortion; and armed robberies. It also charges that six men brandished a firearm during a robbery and another two men fired a gun during a violent crime. Additionally, the indictment states three suspects conspired to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

“The city of Temple and Central Texas area is a safer place with these violent offenders off the streets,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said. “Organized crime and crime that victimizes the community should not be tolerated and it is my hope that this operation sends a message that this type of activity will not be tolerated in the city of Temple.”

The defendants include Jason Mayse, 39; Christopher Meyers, 24; Reginald Williams, 27; Desmond Wilkerson, 27; Atorius Marquis Williams, 23; Demonta Daniels, 21; Trashawn Lamar Alexander, 26; James Roy Whitfield, 27; and Jyraciel Whitfield, 24.

A seventh suspect, Dominic Johnson, 25, is considered a fugitive.

The homicides some suspects are accused of include three Temple killings on Dec. 10, 2017; Jan. 16, 2018; and Jan. 31, 2018; the Belton slaying on Sept. 30, 2017; and a Nov. 26, 2015, slaying in Hearne.

Archie Lee Geiger, 49, was shot and killed Dec. 10, 2017, at his Temple residence at 1309 N. Second St. He was well known to local and federal authorities regarding narcotics activity when he was killed, the Telegram previously reported.

The Jan. 16, 2018, homicide of Willie Howard, 59, at 817 N. Fourth St. in Temple was believed to involve theft of money or narcotics, police said. The slaying occurred during a robbery, Temple Police told the Telegram.

April Lashawn Isaac, 36, of Temple was found dead Jan. 31, 2018, in the 500 block of East Young Avenue. Police said the slaying occurred during a robbery, the Telegram previously reported during a rash of violent home invasions, some of which were fatal.

“These self-proclaimed Killas With Aggression committed numerous violent acts to control the distribution of illegal drugs in East Temple through fear and intimidation,” the FBI said in a news release. “Families and children deserve to live peacefully in the neighborhoods and not be poisoned and victimized by violent groups.”

A related federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday charged three Temple residents which it said were part of the gang — Christopher Kelso, 25; Emanuel Padilla, 21; and Darius Hellums, 22 — with conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act, a federal law that criminalized robbery and extortion, for their roles in a home invasion robbery that resulted in a shooting of a man. The three men were arrested Wednesday.

“The unsealed indictment reveals a reign of terror, perpetrated by a violent enterprise, resulting in death and suffering on a frightening scale,” said U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer, who was sworn in to the position on Oct. 13 after being appointed by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

Sofer added: “We will use all of our federal resources and the full force of federal statutes like (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act) to prevent violent criminals from running unchecked and undeterred throughout our communities.”

Chris Blanton, an assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting the cases, said the Department of Justice first noticed Killas With Aggression in 2014 when gang members started committing smaller crimes. He said the gang operated only in Central Texas and was self contained.

A group of 10 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted the investigation. They are: the FBI; Temple, Belton, Cameron and Hearne police departments; Bell County Organized Crime Unit; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Marshals Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Killeen Police Department and the Bell County Sheriff’s Department aided in the Wednesday arrests.

If convicted, the gang members face sentences ranging from at least five years to life in prison.

“I have a message to these offenders — those who commit violent acts on our communities — your day will come,” Ellis said. “Some of these investigations have taken years, and you thought you got away with it. Guess what — not here in Central Texas. You will face justice — it will come to you.”