Casper PD: Suspect Helped House and Hide Wanted Fugitive Joshua Crook
A man was arrested in connection with the law enforcement operation that took place Wednesday afternoon and evening.
32-year-old Billy Martin was charged in Natrona County Circuit Court on Thursday with two separate felonies.
He was charged as being an 'accessory after the fact,' and he was charged with being in 'possession of methamphetamine, as a third or subsequent offense.'
An affidavit from Natrona County Circuit Court also provided more details from the operation that took place Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, officers from the Casper Police Department PORT unit attempted to locate and arrest Joshua Charles Crook. Crook had three separate warrants, one for felony theft that was issued on November 11, one for aggravated assault which was issued on November 16, and one for parole violation, which was issued on August 12, 2021.
The affidavit noted that the aggravated assault warrant was the result of an incident that occurred on August of 2022 in Casper, where it's alleged that Crook shot at a man who was dating his ex-girlfriend. Crook was in a moving vehicle at the time.
"Crook later fled from CPD officers in a vehicle and, per CPD policy, was pursued," the affidavit stated. "Crook then left a handgun behind in the vehicle and fled on foot, avoiding capture at the time."
It's then alleged that on November 10, 2022, Casper PD officers made contact with Billy Martin. During the contact, officers told Martin that they were searching for Crook in order to arrest him on his warrants. It's alleged that Martin initially denied knowing Crook, but then said he only knew him by his alias, 'Bam.' Martin told officers he didn't know where Crook was, so officers gave him their card to contact them if he had any information.
He promised that he would pass on any information, should he receive any.
He didn't, the affidavit alleges.
Police continued surveillance on the two known addresses of Crook, and saw Martin both coming and going to and from both addresses. Other sources told officers that they believed Crook and Martin were friends, and they believed Crook was with Martin.
Officers contacted Martin again and Martin admitted that he downplayed his relationship with Crook. Martin told officers that he had talked to Crook on November 13, but claimed he hadn't seen him since November 10. The officer noted that, previously, Martin said he didn't even know who Crook was.
Martin told officers that Crook had fled to Riverton, Wyoming. Martin did give officers Crook's phone number.
On November 15, officers attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle in which Crook was believed to be the driver. The car had been reported stolen, out of Gillette, Wyoming. According to the affidavit, Crook fled the scene in the vehicle, and officers did not pursue him, per department policy. He had a passenger in the vehicle with him.
The vehicle was later found abandoned.
Later that day, officers spoke with a source who told them that Crook was with Martin at Martin's residence.
"Officers were unable to follow up on that lead due to their shift being over," the affidavit stated.
The next day, on November 16, officers were again conducting surveillance at a known hangout of Crook's. Officers observed Martin's vehicle pull into the back parking lot of the residence. Officers also observed a white male, standing approximately 5'10" with a beard and glasses and wearing blue jeans exit the passenger seat of Martin's vehicle. He was carrying a black backpack. He entered the residence.
The truck left the residence and officers conducted a traffic stop for failure to stop before entering the roadway and no turn signal 100 feet before the turn.
Martin was the driver of the vehicle.
The passenger in the vehicle told officers that she and Crook had stayed at the La Quinta Inn the previous night. Officers reviewed security footage from the hotel that confirmed the identity of Crook and it also revealed that Martin had picked up Crook and his passenger in his vehicle.
Officers requested a search warrant for the residence in the area of the 1500 block of Westridge Place. They surrounded the residence in preparation of the warrant being served.
"During that time, multiple people, including Martin, exited the residence," the affidavit stated. "Martin exited the residence carrying a black briefcase bag. Martin was ordered to drop the bag and he did. Martin was arrested and taken to jail at that time."
Officers executed the search warrant on the Westridge Pl. residence.
"During the service of the search warrant, multiple doors and windows had to be broken in order to confirm officer's safety," the affidavit said. "Crook was not ultimately located at the residence and it is believed he was able to escape prior to officer's procurement of the search warrant."
Officers did find a methamphetamine bong with residue inside. Another search warrant was executed for the bag that Martin was carrying, and officers located another bag with methamphetamine residue inside of it, and other methamphetamine paraphernalia. Officers utilized a test, which indicated a presumptive result for methamphetamine. Officers weighed the bag without the packaging and the weight was 2.7g. Martin had previously been convicted of possession of a controlled substance in December of 2020 and in March of 2021, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, officers "observed Martin had intended to delay and hinder the arrest of Crook for his felony level warrants by giving him rides, getting them a hotel room, and doing counter surveillance. [Officers] observed that Martin was not a relative of Crook. [Officers] further noted that Martin had been in possession of methamphetamine just prior to the search warrant."
All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
K2 Radio News will continue to update this developing story as more information becomes available.