Shooting not about singer, victim says

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The grand jury will hear charges against a Suffolk man stemming from an August 2018 shooting outside an East Washington Street barber shop.

General District Court Judge Alfred W. Bates III certified the charges against Michael Jermell Hatton, 45, in a hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The victim, 48-year-old Tony Jonathan Lundy, was the only witness.

The case was widely publicized based on news station WTKR quoting witnesses who said the fight started over whether actress Halle Berry should play the late singer Aretha Franklin in a movie. Franklin had died hours before the shooting at her Michigan home after a battle with cancer.

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However, Lundy said outside the courthouse after Tuesday’s hearing that wasn’t true. He said Franklin’s death had been discussed in the barbershop that morning, but it wasn’t what the fight was about. It was just about “disrespect,” he added.

Hatton faces charges of assault, shoot/stab in commission of a felony, use of firearm in commission of a felony and shooting in a public place.

Testimony in the courtroom on Tuesday focused on what happened after both men exited the barbershop, Beamon’s Unisex Salon, at 388 E. Washington St. The shooting happened on the morning of Aug. 16.

Lundy testified that Hatton shot him in the back, stomach and leg. After the first shot hit him in the back, he was on the ground. He hit his head and knocked his tooth out, he said.

Lundy testified Hatton continued shooting him while he was on the ground on his back, scrambling to get away.

“He was on top of me so fast,” Lundy said. “I was telling him, ‘Don’t shoot me again.’”

He spent six or seven days in the hospital suffering from a collapsed lung and pierced bladder, Lundy testified. Surgeons removed part of his intestines. His tooth is still missing.

Hatton’s defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, attempted to question Lundy about what happened in the barbershop, but Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan Walton objected. She said it would amount to nothing more than a “fishing expedition.”

Sacks vehemently disagreed, saying Suffolk prosecutors have a habit of limiting their initial questions so that defense attorneys can’t ask about what led up to the incident on cross-examination.

“They’re attempting to truncate what we can ask,” Sacks said.

Bates declined to hear about anything that happened before the men left the barbershop. “I’m not going back into the barbershop,” he said.

An arrest warrant for Hatton filed after the shooting says that a verbal altercation turned physical in the barbershop and that Lundy was on top of Hatton at one point. When Lundy got off of Hatton and left the barbershop, Hatton “got up, pulled out a gun and followed Mr. Lundy out the door,” the arrest warrant states.

The case will next appear on the docket on March 1 to set the first hearing in Circuit Court.