Crime

Woodward Lake shooting could’ve been a triple homicide, but one man managed to run away

A criminal complaint accuses 21-year-old Gary Lee Perry Jr., 21, left, is charged in the killing of Brennen Julian Fairhead, center, and Scott Alex Gaffey, right, Dec. 14 in Fresno’s Woodward Lake neighborhood.
A criminal complaint accuses 21-year-old Gary Lee Perry Jr., 21, left, is charged in the killing of Brennen Julian Fairhead, center, and Scott Alex Gaffey, right, Dec. 14 in Fresno’s Woodward Lake neighborhood.

The man suspected of killing two people last week during a drug deal in the Woodward Lake neighborhood of northeast Fresno tried to kill a third man who managed to run away with his life, it was revealed Wednesday.

Gary Lee Perry Jr., 21, made his first court appearance in the case. He faces charges of double murder, which could get him the death penalty.

A criminal complaint accuses Perry of killing Brennen Julian Fairhead and Scott Alex Gaffney on Dec. 14 for financial gain.

Perry also is charged in Fresno County Superior Court with the attempted murder of Michael Rackney, who was with the victims when they were killed, and burglary.

An arraignment for Perry was rescheduled for Jan. 5 so his defense lawyer can have more time to gather evidence.

Perry, wearing shackles and a red jail jumpsuit, looked around the packed courtroom but was mostly silent. The judge granted attorney Jason Sorensen’s request that Perry not be photographed in the courtroom.

If convicted, Perry faces either a death sentence or life in prison. The District Attorney’s Office is still investigating, so has not determined whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

Until his trial, Perry will remain in Fresno County Jail in lieu of $4.3 million bail.

After the killings, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Perry confessed to killing Gaffney and Fairhead, both 21 years old and longtime friends.

Gaffney and Fairhead were found about 8 p.m. Dec. 14 suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in the 10000 block of Grouse Run in northeast Fresno.

Dyer said the suspect and the victims were in a car before the shooting – Fairhead in the driver’s seat and Gaffney and Perry in the back for what police described as a prescription narcotics drug deal. Rackney was in the front passenger seat.

Fairhead was shot inside the vehicle; Gaffney was shot in the back as he got out and tried to run away, Dyer said. When the shooting started, Rackney ran. Perry chased Rackney and fired three rounds at him, but Rackney managed to escape, the chief said.

Perry gave up chasing Rackney, then returned to fire additional rounds at Gaffney and Fairhead men before driving away in the car, the chief said.

Gaffney’s body was found on a sidewalk and Fairhead’s in a roadway. Dyer said it wasn’t known whether the shooter and two victims had previously been in the Grouse Run area.

The getaway vehicle was left about a half-mile away, where Perry is said to have dumped the gun into a drain and gone into a restaurant near Friant and Fort Washington roads.

From surveillance video obtained by police, investigators were able to identify the suspect as a man wearing a puffy jacket with a furry hood. Someone contacted police, saying they saw a man who matched that description at a restaurant. He looked nervous, the tipster said, and asked to use the bathroom before leaving.

Police caught up to Perry the next morning at Fairhead’s home in the 5200 block of San Pablo Avenue, where he sometimes stayed. He tried to get in but did not have a key. Officers missed him the first time but were waiting when he came back.

The gun was recovered, Dyer said.

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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