Charges dropped against four suspects in Fraser Street gunplay

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All charges related to the Jan. 29 shoot-up at an apartment building on Fraser Street have been dropped against four men, who have been held in custody on those charges for the past three months.

Assistant Crown attorney Janet O’Brien on Thursday withdrew multiple charges, including allegations of attempted murder and recklessly discharging a firearm, against Jeffrey Burtch, 31, of Perth, Everett T. Telgen, 53, of Brockville, Joseph E. Ferguson, 30, also of Brockville, and Joseph E. Wilson, 38.

No explanation for the decision not to prosecute was provided in open court, but Crown attorney Ross Drummond later said that because of frailties in the Crown’s case, there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction in the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Only Ferguson, who was suspected to have driven one of the getaway vehicles, dealt with any of the charges he’d been facing, entering a guilty plea in Kingston’s Ontario Court of Justice to illegal possession of four grams of “crack” cocaine.

Federal Crown prosecutor Courtney Cottle said Ferguson was found to have the drug on Feb. 4, after Kingston Police arrested him in Brockville on charges arising out of the Fraser Street crime. She told Justice Larry O’Brien it was discovered when he was searched incident to that arrest.

Ferguson has been in custody since his arrest and was sentenced to time served, but at Cottle’s request only 30 days of his pretrial custody was registered against the conviction, a quantum that Ferguson’s lawyer, Robert Barr, told the judge was proportionate to the actual crime.

Kingston Police arrested the four suspects after three men showed up at 73 Fraser St. around 3:20 a.m. on the last Tuesday in January, pounded on the door of one of the apartments, demanding money, and tried to force their way in. Video surveillance footage from the apartment building captured the three intruders, who were wearing ski masks, and showed that one was carrying a silver handgun and another had a camouflaged shotgun.

They left the building when they weren’t able to gain entry to the targeted apartment, but fired several shots at the apartment from outside, one of which penetrated the bedroom window of two children who had been asleep before the commotion.

They then drove off in a light-coloured car and a dark SUV.

No one was injured by the gunfire, and police investigators believe the occupants of the apartment weren’t even the people the armed intruders were after.

Within four days of the shoot-up, however, Telgen and Burtch were both arrested and charged, followed by Ferguson on Feb. 4 and Wilson on Feb. 8.

syanagisawa@postmedia.com