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Men who 'took matters into their own hands' with alleged shooting plead not guilty

“This defendant, along with the codefendant, allegedly took matters into their own hands, which included securing a Glock 9mm handgun with a high-capacity magazine and located the victim and pursued him in a motor vehicle,” said Assistant Attorney General Douglas Barnett.

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Two Mitchell men who were charged for their alleged roles in a vehicle shooting that took place on Aug. 11 in Mitchell pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Johnathon Velazquez, 20, and Isaac Chytka, 25, pleaded not guilty to all charges they are facing from the early morning shooting at the arraignment hearing at the Davison County Public Safety Center. According to the State’s Assistant Attorney General Douglas Barnett, Velazquez was the "trigger man" in the shooting, meaning he was the suspect who allegedly shot at another vehicle "13 times," while Chytka's role entailed being the "wheelman."

Barnett said Chytka and Velazquez believed the victim, which court documents say was Skylar Battest, 20, of Mitchell, had some “wrongdoing” in another investigation. As a result, Barnett alleged Chytka and Velazquez “took matters into their own hands” by locating the victim and shooting “13 separate rounds” at the victim’s vehicle on Aug. 11.

“The victim had been involved, or at least a subject of another investigation, and (Chytka and Velazquez) believe the victim had some wrongdoing pursuing to that investigation. This defendant, along with the codefendant, allegedly took matters into their own hands, which included securing a Glock 9 mm handgun with a high-capacity magazine and located the victim and pursued him in a motor vehicle,” Barnett said. “This particular defendant is alleged to be the trigger man in this incident. We believe, at least at this time, that there were 13 separate rounds fired at the victim’s vehicle.”

Barnett did not disclose any details of the investigation that the victim was supposedly a subject in, which allegedly motivated the shooting Chytka and Velazquez were involved in.

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According to the affidavit, Mitchell Police officers responded to a call that came in from the victim around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, alleging that a black car followed the victim in his vehicle to the 1100 block of West Hanson Ave. The victim alleged the multiple people inside the vehicle “shot multiple rounds” at the victim’s vehicle.

Shortly after officers arrived at the scene, they located the black vehicle with the alleged suspects who shot at the victim near the area where the shooting occurred along the 1100 block of West Hanson Avenue. According to the police report, Velazquez told authorities that he was “not trying to hit the victim,” rather he “wanted to scare” the victim.

The victim told authorities that they were “terrified and in fear of being killed” while being shot at. Upon interviewing the suspects, the affidavit says the alleged shooter in the vehicle, Velazquez, “admitted to shooting at the victim’s car.”

Officers searched Chytka's vehicle and found a Glock semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round extended magazine. A grand jury indicted Velazquez and Chytka on Aug. 20, leading to their arrest.

Considering Velazquez was deemed to be the alleged shooter and that the victim did not die, Velazquez is facing one count of aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily injury and indifference to human life; one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; one count of aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily injury with a dangerous weapon; one count of discharging a firearm at a structure or motor vehicle and discharging a firearm from a moving vehicle that could carry a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison with a $30,000 fine, if found guilty.

While Chytka was the driver, his role resulted in one fewer charge. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily injury and indifference to human life; one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; and one count of aggravated assault with intent to cause bodily injury with a dangerous weapon, all class 3 felonies.

“The inference is, whoever the wheelman was, in this case Mr. Chytka, was placing the vehicle in a position in which those projectiles could strike the victim’s vehicle,” Barnett said, noting he believes it’s “very fortunate” that nobody was killed in the shooting.

However, Judge Chris Giles noted that the court could consider Chytka as a "habitual offender" due to a past felony, which would amount to a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison with a $30,000 fine, if found guilty on all charges.

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For Chytka’s bond modification request, his attorney Doug Dailey pointed to Chytka’s role of not being the “trigger man” in the shooting as a means for Judge Giles to consider granting.

“We recognize that the court found the prior defendant a danger, and we certainly understand the Attorney General’s Office will make the same allegation. However, my client is not the trigger man,” Dailey said. “He was alleged to have been driving the vehicle that the shots were fired from, and he doesn’t have any history of violence.”

Giles sided with Barnett's request to deny modifying both Velazquez and Chytka’s bond during Tuesday's hearing. After Giles denied their bond modification requests, Chytka and Velazquez’s cash-only bonds were set at $50,000. Velazquez's attorney Dava Wermers noted he has no prior criminal record.

“I’m very concerned about the serious nature of these allegations. At this point, the court believes the defendant is a danger to the community,” Giles said, prior to denying Velazquez’s bond modification.

Due to the serious nature of the charges both men are facing from the shooting, Barnett opposed allowing a bond modification.

“There were 12 separate casings that I’m aware of that were recovered from West Hanson Avenue, and there was a slug in addition that I believe was recovered from a home,” Barnett said. “It goes without saying the state views them, specifically this defendant as well as the other defendant, a significant danger to the members of this community. Bond is appropriate at $50,000.”

The two men charged for the shooting are scheduled to face a jury trial on Dec. 13 unless a change of plea and motion is made prior to the trial date.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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