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Authorities are still searching for a male suspect accused of shooting pop star Lady Gaga’s dogwalker during a robbery in Hollywood in February 2021 after the defendant was accidentally released from custody on April 6 due to a clerical error by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The suspect, James Howard Jackson, 19, was released at approximately 3:40 p.m. on April 6 after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office dropped the initial charges against him and replaced them with new charges in a superseding indictment. The sheriff’s department did not state how the error occurred and referred to an official statement that was issued.
“Defendant Jackson attended court proceedings at the Clara Shortridge Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, and was released from custody on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, due to a clerical error,” the statement read. “The investigation is continuing and the LASD Major Crimes Bureau is actively working to get Mr. Jackson back in custody.”
He remained at-large as of April 13, according to the department.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said Jackson was arraigned on charges for the same incident in the new indictment on April 6 and the old case was dismissed by a judge, as required by law. He had no further information about Jackson’s release later that day.
The new indictment charges Jackson and two other defendants, Harold White and Jennifer McBride, who were allegedly involved in the crime after it was committed. Jackson is charged with attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy. White and McBride are charged with being accessories after the fact and receiving stolen property.
Jackson was allegedly among a group of men who saw the dogwalker, Ryan Fischer, walking three of the pop star’s French bulldogs on Feb. 23, 2021, in the 1500 block of North Sierra Bonita Avenue, just north of Sunset Boulevard. The suspects allegedly stopped their vehicle, got out and attempted to steal the dogs. Fischer resisted and one of the suspects – believed to be Jackson – shot him. The suspects fled with two of the bulldogs, named Koji and Gustav.
Residents in the area heard the gunshot and called police. Fischer was taken to a hospital and has since recovered. Shortly after the shooting, Lady Gaga announced a $500,000 reward for dogs’ return.
On Feb. 26, 2021, McBride showed up at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Division with the two dogs, which were unharmed and were returned to Lady Gaga. McBride claimed she found the French bulldogs tied to a pole, police said.
Investigators determined that McBride was the girlfriend of White, father of one of the three men who allegedly robbed Fischer and stole the dogs. Through their investigation, detectives identified Jackson and the two other alleged suspects, Jaylin Keyshawn White, 19, and Lafayette Shon Whaley, 27. The three men were arrested on April 29, 2021, along with McBride and Harold White. Whaley and Jaylin White face attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery charges and remain in custody.
Authorities allege Jackson, Whaley and Jaylin White drove around the San Fernando Valley, West Hollywood and Hollywood on Feb. 24, 2021, looking for people walking French bulldogs. When they saw Fischer walking dogs on Sunset Boulevard, they allegedly followed him and waited until he walked to a more secluded area before committing the robbery, the criminal complaint alleged. Authorities believe the defendants did not know who owned the dogs, and targeted Fischer because they believed the dogs he was walking were valuable.
The suspects later allegedly conspired with Harold White and McBride to return the dogs, authorities said. Harold White is also charged with possession of firearm by a convicted felon.
Anyone with information about Jackson’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at (213)229-1850. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS.
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