Suspect in Old Port shooting was out on bail for drug charges




  • In US
  • 2022-09-26 22:49:00Z
  • By Portland Press Herald, Maine

Sep. 26-The Westbrook man accused of shooting two people in Portland's Old Port this month was out on bail for drug crimes at the time.

Tyreese Vargas, 19, was facing nine charges in separate drug-related cases when surveillance video and witnesses placed him outside a bar on Wharf Street just after 1 a.m. on Sept. 12.

Court documents show one victim, 34-year-old Abdirahman Mahmoud, was part of a group arguing with the suspect. The other, Kali Perry, 22, was just a bystander. Both victims had serious injuries.

Vargas was taken into custody on Sept. 23 by a team of Portland officers and agents from the FBI Safe Streets Task Force as he walked on Pearl Street. He is charged with attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, reckless conduct with a firearm and two counts of violating the condition of release.

Vargas was taken to Cumberland County Jail after his arrest Friday. He appeared in Cumberland County court Monday and a judge set his bail at $500,000.

Police have released few details about the shooting, but court documents paint a clearer picture of what happened in the minutes before the victims were shot outside The Drink Exchange.

The affidavit of probable cause was sealed at the request of Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ackerman because of the ongoing police investigation. However, copies of the affidavit were filed publicly in Vargas' other two open cases. Vargas had been free on bail conditions from the 2021 and 2022 charges, and prosecutors allege he has violated the terms of his release by committing new criminal conduct in the recent shooting.

Two officers on foot patrol that morning heard the gunfire. They found Mahmoud lying on Wharf Street with multiple gunshot wounds. Minutes later, they found Perry at the corner of Fore and Union Streets, where she collapsed after making it a short distance from the shooting scene.

The officers applied tourniquets and trauma wound seals on the victims and they were taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center. Mahmoud had multiple gunshot wounds to his legs and Perry was shot in the back and right leg.

After the shooting, detectives talked to a man who witnessed the shooting and had taken photos and videos just before gunshots rang out, Detective Matthew Rider wrote in an affidavit.

The man told police he was standing about 2 feet away from Mahmoud when the shooter, who was about 15 feet away, fired his gun five or six times. The man told police that the shooter was wearing dark clothing and a dark flat-brimmed hat.

Another witness, who works at The Drink Exchange, told detectives that the argument started inside the bar. When that confrontation moved outside, he thought it was over.

Then, the witness described seeing the suspect take out a pistol, fire it at the victim and run up Plum Alley.

Video footage from inside the bar shows that Vargas and Mahmoud were with two separate groups. The groups got into what police described as a minor verbal altercation near the door, but separated without any physical contact or escalation, according to the affidavit.

Perry also was inside the bar but did not appear to be with either group and was not involved.

Video footage taken through the window after the bar closed shows a group of people outside on Wharf Street. The camera did not capture the shooting but showed "the crowd dispersing and fleeing after shots are fired," Rider wrote.

But video from The Oasis, a dance club and bar across Wharf Street from The Drink Exchange, showed the male suspect running from the scene. He appeared to be holding something in his right hand that he was trying to conceal under his clothing, Rider wrote.

Rider said multiple detectives and officers identified the man as Vargas.

At the time of the shooting, Vargas was out on bail, which included conditions he not engage in any new criminal conduct.

It's unclear when he posted bail. Court records indicate it was sometime between March 7 when his attorney asked the judge to reduce bail, and April 27 when his attorney requested a neuropsychological exam.

Vargas was indicted in February by a Cumberland County grand jury on two counts of unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs for allegedly selling cocaine on Oct. 7, 2021, in Portland.

That February grand jury also indicted him on seven charges - including unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person - tied to a November arrest in South Portland.

Vargas was arrested on Nov. 8, 2021, in South Portland after officers found a Walther P22 pistol and ammunition in the car he was riding in. When he was booked into the jail, staff found $900 and a baggie of suspected narcotics. Testing later showed the baggies contained cocaine base and fentanyl compound or methamphetamine, according to court records.

The court also has ordered two rounds of competency exams to see if he could stand trial. He did not cooperate during the first one in November 2021 and the judge ordered another one in January.

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