ELYRIA — Brady Phillips was a willing participant in the botched robbery that left two men dead late last year, a survivor of the attack said Thursday.
Phillips, 38, was indicted Thursday on two counts each of murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and six counts of felonious assault. He also was charged with tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability.
Police have said Phillips and his partner, Herminio Serrano, forced their way into the David Drive apartment shared by David McDonough and Michael Stump on Dec. 20. Both Stump and Serrano were shot and killed during the robbery.
Doug Merrill, Phillips’ attorney, declined to comment on the indictment Thursday, but previously he has said that his client didn’t fire a shot during the incident.
McDonough said in a telephone interview Thursday that he knew as soon as the two armed men came into the apartment that the robbery wasn’t going to end well.
“I knew Mike wasn’t going to give these guys his (expletive), and Mike knew I wasn’t going to leave him,” McDonough said.
He said he, Stump and three other people in the apartment were herded into Stump’s bedroom where Serrano, whom he said did most of the talking, ordered Stump to open a safe he kept in his room.
Stump’s friends have said he was selling prescription painkillers to make ends meet while he was looking for a job.
“Mike did what he did to make money, but he wasn’t a bad guy,” McDonough said, adding that both he and Stump may have had criminal records but they were trying to clean up their lives.
Once in the bedroom, McDonough said he went for a knife he was carrying but was stopped from using it by Serrano. He also said that when Stump refused to cooperate, Serrano hit him with a gun.
Prosecutors have said Serrano was armed with a .38-caliber revolver given to him by Phillips.
A 9-mm semiautomatic pistol also was recovered by police during their search of the apartment.
After Serrano pistol-whipped him, Stump grabbed a gun he had hidden in the bedroom, and McDonough said he believes that his best friend shot Serrano at least once in the ensuing struggle.
The other three people who had been in the apartment with the roommates fled during the scuffle, and McDonough said he used his cell phone to call 911 before dropping the phone and putting Serrano in a headlock.
Phillips, McDonough said, never got involved in the fight, even when Serrano called for him to shoot Stump.
McDonough said that during the fight, Serrano pushed the gun he was carrying into McDonough’s stomach and fired a single shot. He said Serrano had the gun pointed at his temple and was preparing to pull the trigger when Stump knocked the gun away and it fired.
The bullet hit Stump in the head and McDonough said he grabbed his friend’s gun and pulled the slide back on the gun, ejecting a live shell onto the floor. Meanwhile, McDonough said, Serrano fled the bedroom, firing as he went.
McDonough said he shot Serrano twice — in the leg and buttocks — and Serrano fell.
When he caught up to Serrano in the apartment’s living room, McDonough said the wounded man was still holding his gun. McDonough said he shot Serrano three more times — in the shoulder, stomach and face. Police have said the bullet that hit Serrano’s shoulder was the fatal shot.
Although his gun was empty, McDonough said he still pointed it at Phillips. Although Phillips was carrying a gun, McDonough said, he didn’t raise it.
“I told him ‘You didn’t shoot anybody, I’m not going to shoot you. Get out of here,’ ” McDonough said.
He said Phillips then fled the apartment and McDonough went to check on Stump.
On the 911 call, McDonough can be heard calling out for Stump. The call later disconnects and a 911 dispatcher calls back twice before McDonough answers. He later told an Elyria police dispatcher that two men had invaded their apartment, and he and Stump had wrestled the guns away from them.
Stump died from the gunshot wound to his head the next day.
McDonough, who said he spent 10 days in the hospital for the gunshot wound to the stomach, said he’s only heard part of the 911 call that detectives played for him when they interviewed him. He said he can’t bring himself to listen to the rest. He said he feels guilty that he couldn’t save Stump.
“I’ve got a big scar on my stomach that will remind me — not that I’ll ever be able to forget,” he said.
McDonough said Serrano and Phillips knew they wanted what was in Stump’s safe, which he said contained cash, change and prescription painkillers. McDonough said a safe he kept in his room had cash and empty prescription pill bottles, but he said a doctor had prescribed his medication to him.
McDonough said he believes that the robbery was set up by two men who haven’t been charged in connection with the case.
He also said he doesn’t believe Stump’s girlfriend, Tanya Starcher, was involved in planning the robbery.
One of Stump’s relatives, Christina Stump, is facing an assault charge in Elyria Municipal Court for allegedly attacking Starcher on Dec. 25. Starcher said at the time that Stump’s family blamed her for the robbery.
McDonough said he doesn’t believe it was Christina Stump who attacked Starcher, but another relative of Michael Stump.
Phillips remains at the Lorain County Jail.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
View a photo slideshow and listen to the 911 call (contains harsh language):