Four charged in connection with murder of Alan Diaz in March 2020

Birtcher, Harris, Makanjuola, Bwalya

Four people have been charged in connection with the shooting death of Alan Diaz in March 2020, according to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.

  • James Edward Birtcher, III, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged with murder and a felony firearm sentencing enhancement.
  • Adonis Zakeydaryll Harris, 17, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged with murder and a felony firearm sentencing enhancement.
  • Oluwatomipe Jeremiah Makanjuola, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged with murder and a felony firearm sentencing enhancement.
  • Oliver Mulenga Bwalya, 22, of Elkhart, is charged with aiding, inducing, or causing murder, a felony.

Bwalya, Makanjuola, and Harris, are currently in custody in Michigan on unrelated cases

Birtcher is not in custody and is being sought on a warrant.

Around 11:40 p.m. on March 3, South Bend Police were called to N. Elmer Street for a ShotSpotter alert and a call about a man down.

When they arrived, they found Diaz lying on the walkway near the house. He was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Three spent casings and cash, along with some counterfeit bills, were recovered from the scene.

Diaz was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

On March 11, CMHU learned Cass County received reports of a home invasion with shots fired just a few hours before Diaz was killed in South Bend, reports said.

One of the suspects in that case, Oliver Bwalya, told investigators he and his accomplices were also involved in a crime in South Bend on March 3, reports said.

Ballistic evidence from the home invasion revealed one of the firearms from Diaz’s homicide was also used in the Cass County crime, according to the probable cause affidavit.

CMHU detectives interviewed Bwalya who said he and three accomplices had been involved in a crime in Michigan and went to Indiana to purchase marijuana from Alan Diaz, reports said.

Bwalya told police some of the money for the purchase was counterfeit, reports said.

Bwalya said he personally conducted the transaction.

After the purchase, Bwalya said he was walking back to the car when he heard Diaz yell out, report said.

At that time, the three accomplices began firing at Diaz, reports said.

Investigators say ballistic evidence obtained from the scene confirmed there were multiple firearms fired at the Elmer scene, report said.

Bwalya told police he never had a gun or shot at Diaz and identified the three men he was with that night, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Makanjuola was arrested along with Bwalya in Michigan.

Makanjuola provided much of the same information as Bwalya.

Makanjuola told investigators Bwalya sent him a Snapchat that said, “On gang be here and have sticks bro I got 3 planned out hits already the rest are just optional but the 3 are 100%,” reports said.

He and two friends then drove from Columbus, Ohio and met up with Bwalya, reports said.

A search of Makanjuola’s cell phone helped investigators identify the other two men allegedly involved, reports said.

Their plan was to use counterfeit cash to buy marijuana, reports said.

Harris was later arrested in Ohio. He was in possession of a 9mm handgun that matched ballistic evidence from the Cass County incident but not Diaz’s murder.

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