Crime

Lexington Green shooting victim dies; standoff ends peacefully

After a fatal shooting at Lexington Green shopping center and a three-hour standoff with police, a Lexington man was charged with murder Thursday evening.

Toby Ray Lasure, 31, is suspected of killing a man police think he knew, said Lexington police spokeswoman Ann Gutierrez. He is being held in the Fayette County jail, charged with murder, wanton endangerment, fleeing police and leaving the scene of an accident.

The Fayette County coroner's office identified the victim as Christopher Tolliver, 31, of Lexington.

About 3:15 p.m., witnesses and officers said, a shot was fired in the parking lot at the shopping center off Nicholasville Road. As people turned to look, they saw a second shot fired, said Lt. Edward Hart, near the scene of the shooting Thursday afternoon.

Then the shooter drove off.

Mat Dunaway, who works at Willis Music in Lexington Green said, "I heard it. I looked out, and somebody had been laying out there. He'd been shot."

Dunaway said a witness gave police the license plate number of the shooter's vehicle.

"I know they got the license plate and chased him down," he said.

An officer who heard the car's description over police radios spotted it and tried to stop the car, Gutierrez said.

But it drove off, leading a chase across town and colliding with another car on the way to the parking lot of Ridge Behavioral Health System, a psychiatric and chemical dependency treatment center at 3050 Rio Dosa Drive, near Man o' War Boulevard and Richmond Road.

Lasure was in his car, with a handgun, and talked to police negotiators on a cell phone for nearly three hours. "At times, he was gesturing with the weapon in a suicidal fashion," Gutierrez said.

No one was hurt, however, during the arrest or the chase, Gutierrez said.

T.J. Walker, whose father lives at an apartment complex near Ridge, said he was driving down Rio Dosa toward Man o' War, when he heard a chorus of sirens and saw rows of flashing lights.

"Everybody started hopping out of cars, grabbing their shotguns and putting on their vests," he said. "They told everyone to get down and stay in their cars."

Walker said that several people sat inside their cars and waited for police to move their cruisers so they could leave the Ridge parking lot.

About 4:10 p.m., Lexington police called in the Emergency Response Unit. More than a dozen officers stormed the area with bullet-resistant shields. More than a dozen police cars were on Rio Dosa and at least half a dozen were on Locust Hill, where the police set up a mobile command center.

Residents said police told them at 4:44 p.m. that the man still had a gun to his head.

Meanwhile, police blocked off a large portion of the parking lot outside Lexington Green. They were checking all the license plates of the cars, delaying several patrons from getting to their vehicles.

TV and movie star William Shatner, who owns a farm in Central Kentucky, was one of those patrons. Shatner said he had been at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. He was trapped at the scene for several minutes because his truck was parked inside the area police had cordoned off. Police eventually allowed him to leave.

"My car is here, that's all I know," he said. "I just want to get my car and go home. It happens where I come from; it doesn't happen here."

Investigators hovered around a dark Hyundai, which was towed from the parking lot about 5:45 p.m.

Lasure was arrested about 6:30 p.m.

Police think Lasure and Tolliver knew each other, based on witnesses who saw the two before the shooting, Gutierrez said.

Tolliver was a graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Music and an accomplished composer who also had been in local theater productions.

Hart said police interviewed several people who saw the shooting from different angles. He said investigators have collected a lot of evidence, including bullet shell casings.

"We think they parked next to each other," Hart said.

Witnesses said the victim was shot twice, in the back and in the head.

"We know that they knew each other, but we don't know how," Gutierrez said. "It wasn't some sort of random shooting."

Tolliver's body was to be sent to Frankfort for an autopsy on Friday, according to the coroner's report.

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