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June 05, 2023

Fugitive in Roxborough High School shooting is 'clearly getting help from others,' prosecutors say

Dayron Burney-Thorne, one of five alleged shooters, has evaded arrest in the eight months since the attack. The U.S. Marshals are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture

Investigations Shootings
Roxborough Shooting Fugitive Jon Tuleya/PhillyVoice

Dayron Burney-Thorne, one of five suspected gunmen in the Roxborough High School shooting, remains on the lam and may be getting assistance from others, prosecutors say. Above, a memorial that was created last fall for Nicholas Elizalde, the 14-year-old killed in the shooting.

District Attorney Larry Krasner called on the public's help Monday in locating a suspect wanted in connection to the shooting outside Roxborough High School last fall.

Dayron Burney-Thorne, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, has evaded authorities in the eight months since the shooting, which claimed the life of 14-year-old Nicolas Elizalde and injured four other teenagers. Burney-Thorne is one of five suspects accused of opening fire shortly after a football scrimmage on Sept. 27.

Joanna Pescatore, who runs the homicide unit for the district attorney's office, suggested he was receiving help and may have fled outside Pennsylvania during a press conference Monday morning.

"It just baffles me that a 16-year-old person could be out there like this, clearly getting help from others," she said. "We've had sightings. I've done numerous search warrants myself for different states; I don't want to state where that is. I know the fugitive squad from the homicide unit and the federal authorities are helping us on this case. Nothing. So if you know where he is — his mother, his brother, whoever — please call."

Burney-Thorne is also wanted for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tahmir Jones, who was killed in Poplar the day before the Roxborough High School attack. Two other suspects in the latter shooting — Zyhied Jones, 17, and Troy Fletcher, 15 — have been connected with Jones' death through cell phone records and surveillance footage, although the shootings do not appear to be related.

Jones and Fletcher, along with 16-year-old Saleem Miller and 21-year-old Yaaseen Bivins, were arrested last year in connection with the Roxborough High School shooting. Authorities say they, along with Burney-Thorne, fired more than 60 bullets at teen football players on the 4700 block of Pechin Street, in what has been described as an ambush shooting. 

Elizalde, who suffered a fatal shot to the chest, was not the intended target of the attack, police said. The freshman at Walter B. Saul High School played on the Roxborough junior varsity football team since his school does not have a football program.

Investigators have said they believe a sixth person, who has not been publicly identified, served as the getaway driver. 

In January, a judge ruled that Miller, Bivins, Jones and Fletcher should stand trial for murder and aggravated assault.

Last month, U.S. Marshals acted on a tip that Burney-Thorne was hiding in Atlanta. Several investigators traveled to the Georgia city and reported a sighting, though Burney-Thorne evaded arrest. 

Roxborough Dayron Burney-ThorneSource/Philadelphia Police

Dayron Burney-Thorne, 16, is wanted by Philadelphia police on murder and related charges connected to the Sept. 27 shooting outside Roxborough High School.

Burney-Thorne is currently one of Philadelphia's most wanted fugitives. He is described as a 6-foot-3 male weighing 215 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Krasner's office is urging anyone with information to call (215) 686-3433 or (215) 686-TIPS, or to submit an anonymous tip online. The U.S. Marshals are currently offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, whose office has faced criticism since news broke that a former sheriff deputy illegally sold two of the guns used in the attack, delivered an especially pointed to message to anyone harboring fugitives like Burney-Thorne.

"You do not want this smoke coming up in your house," Bilal said at the conference. "Turn them in."

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