The man accused of fatally shooting a New Jersey pharmaceutical executive after following him home from a winning night at a Pennsylvania casino was spotted on video hanging around his victim.
Jekai Reid-John, 27, and another man were seen on surveillance video from the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., lurking around the victim, Sree Ranga Aravapalli, according to the Bucks County Courier Times, which cited court papers. The second man has not been publicly identified.
One of those men used a debit card at the casino, which produced a receipt in Reid-John’s name, according to court papers. It’s unclear when Reid-John started targeting Aravapalli.
Reid-John, of Norristown, Pa, was charged Tuesday in Montgomery County, Pa., with one-count of first degree murder in the fatal attack. Cops say he tailed Aravapalli about 30 miles to his home in Plainsboro, NJ, broke in and shot him several times.
EZ Pass records revealed a white BMW with a temporary Delaware license plate, aftermarket wheels and a black spoiler followed Aravapalli as he entered the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Courier Times reported. The same car followed Aravapalli off the turnpike at 3:20 a.m., and the 911 call came just 18 minutes later.
The attack was apparently a robbery gone bad – Aravapalli cashed out winnings of around $10,000 before leaving the casino. Reid-John didn’t know Aravapalli, but watched him take off, then hit the road to follow him home around 3 a.m, police told NBC4 New York.
The 54-year-old CEO of Aurex Labs in East Windsor hadn’t made it upstairs, where his wife and daughter were sleeping, when Reid-John allegedly busted in through a back sliding door, which was covered with plywood Thursday, the station reported.
A neighbor told the station a car could be heard racing away after the gunshots rang out through the quiet, upscale neighborhood. The initial tip on Reid-John’s identity came from a video at a farmstand near the home.
Reid-John is awaiting extradition to New Jersey.
Investigators allegedly found the a white BMW with Pennsylvania registration linked to Reid-John at the Norristown address, court papers say. A trash bag was spotted on the front seat, along with a pair of Dior B23 high top sneakers in the back seat matching the description of the shoes worn by the person of interest at the casino, the Courier Times reported, citing court papers. When the car was later searched, the bag contained clothing matching the description from the video, along with a temporary registration tag.
Reid-John told cops he was driving the BMW on Monday, and went to the casino where he purchased food, the paper reported. He lawyered up when he was asked what happened after he left the gambling hall.
Police also found a loaded 9 mm handgun, the paper reported, but did not say where. Casings recovered at the scene were .380, according to court papers.
Aravapalli also left behind a son. It’s not clear if the son was home at the time of the attack.
Eric Hausler, the CEO of Parx, confirmed in an emailed statement late Thursday the victim had been at the casino, and said they were cooperating with the investigation.
Court records show Reid-John pleaded guilty in Montgomery County to a drug-dealing offense in 2016 and was sentenced to a minimum of two to four years in state prison and eight years of probation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“It’s crazy,” Sheeza Khan, Aravapalli’s neighbor, told Philadelphia’s CBS3. “I mean, unbelievable. Like how can somebody follow him all the way, and come here and kill him in the night? It’s so shocking.”