Suspect in shootout with police charged with murder
Updated: Wednesday, July 24 2013, 09:57 AM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. – The homicide suspect authorities said exchanged gunfire with Rochester Police officers Thursday afternoon has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two men early Monday morning.
Ralph Dion Strong Jr., 31, of Rochester, is accused of intentionally shooting Jahmia Singleton and Reggie Johnson in the chest and torso just after 12:00 a.m. Monday on Central Avenue.
Rochester Police said they were pursuing Strong Thursday afternoon in the area of Goodman and Yates Streets when he opened fire on officers.
Sgt. Flamur Zenelovic was shot. According to Police Chief James Sheppard, Zenelovic sustained multiple non-life-threatening injuries in the upper body.
Rochester General Hospital confirmed the officer was shot in the arm, is alert and will be OK.
Passing motorist, Gene McDougal, 47, of Henrietta, was caught in an exchange of gunfire between Strong and police. He was shot in the lower body.
Police do not know whose gunfire injured McDougal.
Strong was also shot. He and McDougal were both transported to Strong Memorial Hospital. Click here for more on their conditions.
Rochester residents were alarmed by the exchange.
"I heard gun shots," said one witness. "It sounded like automatic fire. [I heard] at least 20 rounds."
Ralph Strong Jr.'s Criminal Past & Rap Persona
13WHAM News has learned Strong was arrested in September 2004 and charged with federal crimes for the sale and distribution of cocaine.
He pled guilty in February 2005, and admitted to distributing crack cocaine in small plastic baggies on North Clinton Avenue in March 2004.
He was sentenced in May 2005 to three years in federal prison.
Strong also was an up and coming rapper who performed under the name "Irak The Prince." Online his rap videos, lyrics, and persona appear to glorify a life of drugs, money and violence.
"Surely the end he came to is nothing to glorify, and that might be a lesson for someone however you look at it," Mayor Tom Richards said.
"I don't think this case is a matter of looking at the type of music that he engages in," added Police Chief James Sheppard. "I think this is an individual that committed several criminal acts and we did our job and made our arrest and he'll go through the process but I don't want to make this a statement relative to the type of music he chose to perform."
The two Murder 1st Degree charges Strong faces carry the possibility of life in prison without parole if he's convicted.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley explained that evidence in that case and the shootout on Thursday will be presented to a Grand Jury in the coming weeks for consideration of more charges. Aggravated Attempted Murder of a Police Officer, a Class A Felony, is likely an additional charge Strong could face in that indictment.