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Suspect in mass shooting at Kenosha Co. bar charged with 3 counts of homicide

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 21, 2021

KENOSHA — Rakayo A. Vinson, the suspect in the mass shooting that left three people dead at a Kenosha County tavern last Sunday, was charged with homicide Wednesday.

Kenosha County prosecutors charged 24-year-old Vinson with three counts of 1st-degree intentional homicide, as well as three counts of attempted 1st-degree intentional homicide for the three other people who were shot and injured during the shooting.

In a criminal complaint released Wednesday, prosecutors argue that Vinson was injured in a fight with other men at the bar early that morning. Vinson later found the men involved in the fight at the bar's patio and opened fire with a firearm, hitting and killing three of them. Three other people who were at the bar that night were also injured.

Prosecutors say that one of the men who was hit and killed did use a firearm that night, firing two shots that appeared to not have hit anyone. Prosecutors also say that during an interview, Vinson said he had been there that night, that he had been in a fight inside the tavern, and that he had been armed with a firearm. He told investigators that things “popped off” and that “I blacked out and s*** went down."

The victims were previously identified as 24-year-old Cedric Gaston of Kenosha, 22-year-old Kevin Donaldson of Kenosha and 26-year-old Atkeen Stevenson of Kenosha.

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Law enforcement called to the scene of the shooting

The lengthy criminal complaint states a Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department detective was sent to the area of Somers House Tavern at 1548 Sheridan Rd. in Somers around 1:15 a.m. last Sunday. He was responding to a report of a shooting with multiple victims.

There the detective found the scene preserved by members of the Kenosha Police Department and the Sheriff's Department.

Inside the tavern, the detective observed "a chaotic scene" where it appeared multiple drinks had been abandoned and numerous chairs overturned.

Outside, he found the body of Cedric Gaston, one of three victims who died in the mass shooting. Within the patio of the enclosed bar, the detective found the body of Atkeem Stevenson. A number of shell casings were discovered across the area, 40 casings in total, according to the criminal complaint.

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The victims of the shooting

A witness told investigators that around 12:45 a.m. that night, he was pulling up to the Somers tavern when he spotted a friend of his, Kevin Donaldson, standing in the street. Donaldson then ran up to the witness's car for cover. The witness told investigators Donaldson got into the car and they began driving to a Kenosha hospital. The witness also told investigators he believed Donaldson had been shot, the complaint states. Donaldson later passed away from his injuries at St. Catherine’s Medical Center.

The criminal complaint identified the three people who were injured in the shooting, but TMJ4 News will not be releasing their names in order to protect their privacy. One victim suffered a gunshot wound through his chest cavity and is embedded in his right shoulder. The second victim sustained a gunshot wound to his left elbow. The third victim sustained a gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Autopsies were also performed on the three men who were killed in the shooting, Kevin Donaldson, Atkeem Stevenson and Cedric Gaston. The complaint states Donaldson’s cause of death was a gunshot wound and that he had suffered a gunshot wound to his chest and abdomen, with the entrance to the right interior chest. Stevenson had four separate gunshot wounds and that the cause of his death was also gunshot wounds. Those gunshot wounds were to the head, neck and chest, and another gunshot wound to the neck, a third gunshot wound was to the chest, and finally, a gunshot wound to the right side of the back. Gaston's cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the criminal complaint.

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Statements from a victim and witnesses

The owner of Somers House Tavern later told investigators that around midnight, a person later identified as Rakayo Vinson was in a fight in the bar and that he sustained "some injuries to his face," the complaint states. The owner said he kicked some of the people involved in the fight out of the bar.

The owner said he then brought Vinson, who had walked to a bathroom, out onto the patio area of the bar, where the owner tried to calm Vinson down. The owner told one of the people who was shot and injured later that evening to keep an eye on Vinson. The owner said he wished to check that the other people involved in the fight had left.

The complaint then outlines what the owner of the tavern said he saw via surveillance video, after he left Vinson on the patio that night.

The owner said the video shows Vinson proceeding to the area of the patio covered by a canopy. In the words of the complaint, the owner said he then "saw a muzzle flash after Vinson arrived at the patio, and saw a person on video that he believes to be Vinson then get up on a higher level of the patio and leap off of the patio, over a fence, into the driveway at a particular location on the patio, proceed through the driveway, and again, turn back towards the patio in a posture as if he possessed a gun and was prepared to shoot, and then proceed across Sheridan Road," according to the complaint.

The owner said the person who entered the canopy immediately with a muzzle flash and then jumped over the fence was Rakayo Vinson.

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Other witnesses and one of the victims also spoke to investigators.

One victim said that after the bar owner asked him to keep an eye on Vinson, Vinson went onto the patio and that he was bleeding from the nose. The victim said Cedric Gaston and Atkeem Stevenson then walked up to Vinson. The victim said Gaston and Stevenson were acting in an "aggressive manner." The victim said the two men then said "what's up." Vinson replied “You know what’s up" and then pulled out a gun, the complaint states.

Vinson then began shooting, hitting Gaston first, according to the complaint. The victim said he and Stevenson ran to the left while Gaston ran to the right. The victim says Vinson kept shooting at Gaston and Stevenson. Stevenson was eventually shot as well, the complaint states. The victim also told investigators that Vinson shot seven or eight gunshots, and more further away, according to the complaint.

A witness told investigators that he arrived at Somers House Tavern with a group of people, including Cedric Gaston and Atkeem Stevenson. The witness says that while at the patio around 12:30 a.m., "an individual" showed up and that the witness heard gunshots coming from the right side. The witness told investigators "an individual wearing a red sweater with his hood up, and this person was the lone person holding a black 40 caliber firearm," the complaint says.

The witness continued, according to the complaint, that "this individual was on the patio firing south and west, and that he heard four shots... that after the first round of shots, he saw this individual look back."

After the initial pause in shooting, the witness says he saw Atkeem Stevenson trying to get to the railing after he had been shot. The witness said after the shooter looked in Stevenson's direction, he began shooting again at Stevenson.

A second witness said that he was with a group of people for the first time at the tavern that night. The witness said his group became hot in the crowded bar so they went to the patio area outside. There, they heard a couple of pops and thought someone may have been shooting fireworks, the complaint states. The witness says he then saw one man standing on the deck, pointing a gun at someone to the southwest.

The witness said that then he saw a person fall down about two feet in front of the person with the gun. The witness said he saw the armed person turn towards the witness's group and fire two rounds. The members of the group jumped to the ground. They heard several more shots. The witness looked back up and saw the gunman get onto the rail and jump over the fence. The witness then realized that two of his friends had been shot in the gunfire, the complaint states.

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Surveillance video of the shooting

Investigators say they obtained surveillance video that shows parts of the mass shooting at the tavern and the surrounding area.

A detective who helped review the video said the video shows Vinson heading to an area where a group containing Donaldson, Stevenson, and Gaston were. As Vinson is under the canopy, Cedric Gaston and Atkeem Stevenson return to the canopy area, and immediately gunfire begins, the complaint states.

The detective says "as shots appear to be fired, that an individual then jumps up onto an elevated area of the patio, and leaps off at a particular location on the patio, jumping down onto the driveway of Somers House Tavern," according to the complaint.

The detective continued, that that "individual then runs a distance in the driveway, then turns in a 'shooting-type position' to face the patio again, and then turns and proceeds across Sheridan Road to the east."

As soon as shots rang out, a person later identified as Kevin Donaldson appears to run from the front entrance of the tavern to an area where cars are parked to the east, across Sheridan Road, the detective says. The person later identified as Rakayo Vinson then goes across Sheridan Road, fires shots to the north of his location toward a building immediately across from Somers House Tavern on the east side of Sheridan Road, according to the complaint.

After those shots, the complaint says Kevin Donaldson, who was in the area where those shots were allegedly fired by Venson, then emerges from that area and fires twice from behind a vehicle. The next time Donaldson emerges from the vehicle, it appears the person shooting at Donaldson earlier is able to strike Donaldson.

The videos then show Donaldson cross back across Sheridan Road and jump in a vehicle. He was then transported from the area of the shooting, the detective says.

The detective concludes from the video that the person shooting at Donaldson is Rakayo Vinson. "Based on his close review of this video, [the detective] reaches the conclusion that the person who leapt off of the patio at Somers House Tavern is the same individual who shoots at Kevin Donaldson across the street," according to the complaint.

Investigators interview the suspect

After Rakayo Vinson was arrested in connection to the shooting, investigators interviewed him, on Sunday, April 18.

The complaint states for multiple hours, Vinson maintained that he had not been present at Somers House Tavern early Sunday morning. But later in the interview, Vinson admitted "he had been present, that he had used identification to enter the Somers House Tavern, and that he had been in a fight inside the establishment," according to the complaint.

Vinson continued in the interview that he had been armed with a firearm during the incident, and said that things “popped off” and that “I blacked out and s*** went down," the complaint states.

Vinson said to investigators that they would never find the firearm, according to prosecutors.

The complaint adds that detectives found a wallet that includes identification of Rakayo Vinson in it. The wallet was found in an enclosed opening between the patio and the outer fencing. Vinson told detectives during the interview that he had lost his wallet during the incident, the complaint states.

Bond was set at $4,000,000 for Vinson. His adjourned initial appearance is scheduled for May 5. If found guilty of the charges, Vinson could spend up to life in prison.