EAST ALTON, Ill. – A suspect’s cell phone and gun contained clues that would not just help them solve a violent crime in East Alton, but also two other violent crimes, thousands of miles away.

A man reportedly approached two women who were putting a child’s car seat in the East Alton ice arena parking lot on January 22, 2022. He asked for a light, then shot them both.

“This was lightning out of clear blue sky,” said Tom Haine, Madison County State’s Attorney. “…and we’re just thankful no one died.”

“He is uniquely dangerous, in my opinion, because of his random victim choices,” said East Alton Police Chief Scott Golike.

The investigation collected enough evidence to get a guilty plea from 31-year-old Berton Lamar Newton, who last lived on Oscar Avenue in Alton, Illinois.

The East Alton Police Department did not stop with one case.

“We continued working on it and gathered some intel from some informants that led to the information that he was possibly involved in other shootings,” Golike said.

They followed forensic evidence from Newton’s cell phone and ballistic evidence from his gun to connect him to crimes in two other states. Newton is now charged with an armed robbery and shooting in Las Vegas on December 13, 2021.

He’s also charged with a double shooting in Fresno, CA, that occurred on January 5, 2022. It was 17 days later when Newton shot two women in East Alton, crimes for which he’s now pleaded guilty.

“Five victims—three states,” Haine said.

“We got the same gun, that we also recovered from him with his fingerprint,” Golike said. “We got the same gun matching to two different cities where the shootings happened, so the case came together really good.”

“This is a testament to what they do when no one is watching,” Haine said. “We’re just honored to play a role in that as prosecutors who can put to completion this case that really traumatized the East Alton community.”