On December 10, 2017, at approximately 1:36 AM, officers from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police were dispatched to the 700 block of First Street for a report of shots fired. Detectives Tom Ginder and Rob Deeter arrived on the scene and located a male victim, later identified as Austin PETERS, a 22 year-old Lancaster man, lying on the sidewalk in front of 716 First Street. Peters had been shot several times in the upper torso and neck and was immediately transported to the Lancaster General Hospital for emergency medical treatment. Peters was pronounced deceased shortly after arriving at the hospital. Several 9mm shell casings were located at the homicide scene.
An autopsy was performed on December 11, 2017 by the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office and determined that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death was homicide.
Detective Sergeant Nathan Nickel was assigned as the lead investigator on the case. Investigators processed the crime scene for evidence, canvassed the neighborhood for witnesses, conducted numerous witness interviews and gathered evidence from video camera from the surrounding area. Through several investigative sources, investigators learned that the victim had been with a subject named Raymond Torres, a 24 year-old male, earlier in the evening and leading up to the shooting. Using numerous video cameras from around the area, investigators were able to piece together a chain of events that began approximately an hour before the homicide and which depict the victim and Torres walking together around the Southwest City neighborhood.
On December 10, 2017, approximately one hour prior to the homicide at about 12:26 AM, officers from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police responded to the 300 block of Coral Street for a report of shots fired. The officers arrived at the scene, checked the area and were unable to locate any victims or witnesses. However, investigators later obtained video footage, which showed the victim, Austin Peters, walking through the 300 block of Coral Street with Raymond Torres. The video also shows TORRES holding and firing a handgun into the air. Officers located several 9mm shell casings laying in front of 320 ½ Coral Street. Torres and the victim were seen together a short time later at a store in the 600 block of Columbia Avenue.
Raymond TORRES was observed on video again, walking with the victim near Ruby Street and Columbia Avenue. Torres can be seen on video removing a firearm from the front of his body and "racking" the slide. Video footage also depicts the victim and Torres walking on Ruby Street and crossing over toward the 700 block of First Street at approximately 1:32 AM. The shooting of Austin Peters occurred less than four minutes later, at 1:36 AM.
Investigators continued to conduct follow-ups and interview witnesses, regarding the Austin Peters homicide. On January 16, 2018, Detective Tom Ginder and Detective Sergeant Nickel interviewed a witness who reported that he had several conversations with Raymond TORRES about the shooting of a "white guy". TORRES told the witness that he had been at a party and that after the party he and "the white guy" walked around together. The witness reported that TORRES told him that he and the “white guy” went to a store and that after leaving the store, TORRES admitted to shooting the victim in his neck and upper body with a 9mm.
As a result of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Nathan Nickel filed the following charges:
CHARGED: Raymond TORRES Jr. (24 year-old male)
Last known address in the 700 block of Bay Street in Lancaster City
TORRES was charged with one count of Criminal Homicide (F1), one count of Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act - Persons Not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell, or Transfer Firearms (M1) and one count of Firearms Not to be Carried Without a License (F3) before Magisterial District Judge Adam Witkonis. TORRES is currently in custody at the SCI Camp Hill on an unrelated matter and was served with an arrest warrant for these charges this morning by Detective Sergeant Nickel.
All persons accused of a crime are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.