Racine police say a 20-year-old man is facing drug and weapons charges and could be the suspect from a shots fired call last week.
Zerell Strong, of Racine, was charged Friday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute, use of a dangerous weapon and one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon. If convicted, he faces up to more than four years in prison and/or up to $20,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, police on Feb. 21 were investigating a report of shots fired near the 1300 block of Albert Street that may have involved an individual wearing dark clothes and a dark hat who left the area in a dark car. Witnesses say the vehicle may have been a Chevy Impala with tinted windows and a spotlight driving with a spare tire on one side. On Wednesday, patrol officers witnessed a black Chevy Caprice with tinted windows and hubcaps that could be mistaken for a spare tire driving east on State Street and then south on Wisconsin.
Officers say they initiated a traffic stop and identified the passenger in the car as Strong and took him into custody on warrants out of both Racine and Mount Pleasant. Police say they smelled marijuana on Strong, but he said it was because he’d just smoked a joint, so they called in a K9 unit to perform an open-air sniff on the vehicle.
After the dog alerted on the passenger side of the car, officers asked the driver to exit the vehicle so they could search it, the complaint reads. A loaded Ruger 9mm handgun was located under the passenger seat where Strong was sitting, but he denied knowing anything about it. The driver also denied knowledge of the weapon, telling police they borrowed the car from a friend.
Police say they transported both the driver and Strong to the police department for questioning after which the driver was released. Officers told Strong that he smelled of marijuana and that it wasn’t from smoke so they searched his person and found a baggie that contained 14 individual packages of pot as well as $136 in cash.
Whether or not Strong is the suspect behind the shots fired calls last weekend is not noted in his criminal complaint.
Strong was given a cash bond of $1,500 at his initial appearance Friday, and jail records indicate he may have bonded out. He will next be in court March 3 for his preliminary hearing.