Four teenage boys from the Tri-Valley were arrested Friday on warrants for murder and kidnapping during a robbery in connection with the fatal stabbing of Pleasanton native Jackson Reese Butler last month, according to Pleasanton police.
Police did not release the names nor any other identifying information about the four suspects, citing the fact they are underage. A fifth person -- a 19-year-old Tri-Valley man -- who was arrested earlier in the investigation still faces accessory to murder, but he has not been charged with murder, according to Lt. Erik Silacci.
The arrests come five weeks to the day after the violent encounter that took the life of 19-year-old Butler, a former Amador Valley High School student who competed in judo internationally and had Olympic aspirations.
"The Pleasanton Police Department would like to extend our condolences to the Butler family," Silacci said in a statement. "During their time of grief, they remained resilient and trusted in our department’s ability to solve this crime. We hope the arrests and pending charges of these violent suspects will bring some form of closure to the Butler family."
Butler's death, which occurred about a month into the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, marked the city's first homicide in just under eight years.
Police stated at the outset of their investigation that a drug sale was being looked at as a possible factor, and Silacci provided new details about those circumstances on Friday morning.
According to the lieutenant, Butler was actively advertising and selling marijuana wax cartridges and the four juvenile suspects devised a plan to rob Butler of inventory on the night of April 15. The product was a form of concentrated cannabis traditionally used in vaping, which Butler was allegedly selling illicitly.
The four youth suspects set up a meeting with Butler -- the nature of which is still unknown -- in the parking lot of the Hyatt House Pleasanton, where Butler had a room, according to Silacci.
The plan, allegedly, was always to rob Butler that night, but the situation turned violent. A fight ensued during the robbery and Butler was stabbed multiple times around 8:20 p.m., according to Silacci.
The 19-year-old man was transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where he died from his injuries.
Police have not clarified which suspects were involved in the fight, or who did the stabbing. They initially reported the confrontation involved two people against Butler, but Silacci confirmed Friday that their "exhaustive investigation" found that the four juveniles "were directly involved in the murder of Jackson Butler."
The culprits fled the scene immediately on the night of April 15, police said at the time.
Six days later, police announced the arrests of Isaiah Joseph Howard, a 19-year-old Amador Valley alum, on suspicion of accessory to murder and concealment or destruction of evidence, as well as a 17-year-old boy (whose name was not released on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy.
But no homicide charges were filed for weeks as the investigation continued. Howard posted bail while the 17-year-old was released from custody too, because prosecutors had not filed formal charges against him due to the ongoing investigation, police said.
The Butler family told the Weekly last week that they were remaining patient during the drawn-out investigation that was possibly impacted by the COVID-19 shelter order, but some in the community expressed concern that no murder charges were filed yet. The case entered the national spotlight earlier this week when Fox News featured the story.
"Our Criminal Investigations Unit has been working solely on this case for the past month. Each and every case has different challenges and this case has presented it’s fair share," Capt. Larry Cox said last week.
The case took a major turn on Friday when arrest warrants were executed on the four juvenile suspects. Three of the teen boys were arrested while the fourth turned himself in to the Pleasanton Police Department.
Each of the four were booked into Alameda County Juvenile Hall on charges of murder and kidnapping during the commission of a robbery. Silacci declined to release any identifying details about the underage arrestees, but he did confirm one of them was the same 17-year-old boy who was arrested earlier in the investigation.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office will make the final determination on whether the four juveniles will be charged as adults, according to Silacci.
Meanwhile, Howard is scheduled to appear in court next month in relation to the charges of accessory to murder and concealing evidence, according to the lieutenant.