Police arrest mother, brother of Fox River Mall shooting suspect

Ralph Ellis and Shirina Willis
Ralph Ellis and Shirina Willis(Outagamie County Jail)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 10:30 AM CST
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - Grand Chute Police have arrested the mother and the brother of Fox River Mall shooting suspect Dezman Ellis.

On Tuesday, officers arrested Shirina H. Willis and Ralph W.P. Ellis on recommended charges of Harboring and Aiding a Felon.

Willis and Ellis were booked into the Outagamie County Jail. Willis is the mother of shooting suspect Dezman Ellis. Ralph Ellis is the suspect’s brother.

Dezman Ellis, 17, is charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide and First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety. He’s being held on a $1.5 million bond.

On Jan. 31, Dezman Ellis shot and killed 19-year-old Jovanni Frausto in the Fox River Mall food court during an argument over a girl, police say.

Dezman Ellis went on the run and was arrested February 4th in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jovanni Frausto’s girlfriend told investigators that they went to the mall to eat at about 2:45 p.m. Jovanni and his girlfriend were accompanied by the girl’s niece. They were walking around when they came across a group of people they knew--one of them Dezman Ellis.

The girlfriend said Jovanni and Dezman “started to exchange words.”

Jovanni’s girlfriend told police that their argument was over a girl who was in Dezman’s group. About three months ago, Jovanni had been talking to the girl at the center of the dispute. Jovanni’s girlfriend said the girl had previously dated Dezman Ellis, but they were broken up when Jovanni was talking with her.

Jovanni’s current girlfriend says during the argument at the mall, Dezman threatened Jovanni, saying, “I will shoot this place up, I will kill you.” She says Dezman Ellis started flashing a gun. She left the area with her niece and Jovanni took off running.

“Jovanni ran straight and Dezman was chasing him with the gun,” says Jovanni’s girlfriend. She said Jovanni was not armed.

A witness in Dezman Ellis’ group said Dezman had a black handgun. She heard two shots. She saw Jovanni Frausto hold his chest, fall into a table, and then to the ground.

Dezman’s friend said their group ran out of the mall and drove away. She told police she dropped Dezman off at his apartment in the 700 block of Woodland Ave in Oshkosh.

Another member of the group confirmed to police that Dezman had a gun and shot it. She stated that she believed Ellis still had the gun.

Survivor Colt Lemmers told police that he had spotted a friend near the Panda Express in the mall when he heard someone say “drop the gun.” He turned around and heard a shot. After the first shot, he felt something hit his hip. He described the pain as “feeling like a bee sting.” That’s when he realized he had been shot.

Police found two 9mm spent shell casings in the food court.

A witness later told police that he saw Ellis and his brother loading a blue Dodge Avenger with clothing and other items at an apartment building on Woodland Ave in Oshkosh. Police later found Ellis’ car outside a duplex in the 200 block of W. 20th Ave, but Ellis had fled.

Jovanni Frausto suffered a wound to his chest and an exit wound through the back. He wat taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be two gunshot wounds.

Police later spoke with Dezman Ellis’ brother, Ralph, who stated that Dezman told him that he shot someone at the mall.

Jovanni’s girlfriend said they had not planned to meet with Dezman in the mall that day and it was a random occurrence.

According to a federal arrest warrant request filed by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Dezman and Ralph Ellis and their girlfriends checked into a Super 8 motel in Platteville on January 31st.

Police say Dezman Ellis checked into the hotel and Ralph and his girlfriend drove back to the Fox Valley area after midnight. Ralph Ellis says Dezman and his girlfriend were left in the room with no transportation.

The Ellis brothers were known to have family and associates in Ames, Iowa. Based on the direction of travel, police believe Dezman Ellis was headed to Ames or he was having someone from Ames, Iowa traveling to Platteville to pick him and his girlfriend up at the motel.

No official charges have been filed against Willis and Ralph Ellis. Action 2 News will update this developing story.

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