WATCH NOW: Lincoln investigators are headed to Florida following 30-year-old’s arrest there in homicide

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Lincoln police investigators are headed to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, following the arrest there of a 30-year-old Lincoln man Wednesday night on a warrant for first-degree murder of a man gunned down in an alley near 33rd and Vine streets early Saturday. 

“Based on the evidence, investigators determined that Ryan Long was responsible for the murder of Michael Whitemagpie,” Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said. 

Ryan G. Long

Ryan G. Long

He said they identified Long as a suspect from the very early stages of the investigation and were able to develop probable cause needed for the arrest warrant, which they got with the assistance of the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office on Sunday. 

“That is where the diligence of the investigative staff and collaboration with the friends and family members of Michael Whitemagpie assisted greatly,” Bliemeister said. 

On Wednesday night, Jacksonville Beach Police stopped a vehicle for a seat-belt violation and learned about the Nebraska arrest warrant for the passenger, Long, after running his name in a national database.

Bliemeister said they arrested him without incident. 

Long was booked into the Duval County Jail at 8:15 p.m. local time.

“We are actively working with the authorities in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, as part of this investigation,” the police chief said.

Bliemeister said police searched the vehicle and found a stolen 9mm handgun and “other evidence,” which were collected and will be analyzed.

He said the gun would be compared with shell casings found at the scene to determine if it was the gun used to kill Whitemagpie, who died after being shot several times in an alley between 32nd, 33rd, S and T streets shortly before 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

Long is set to go to court in Florida at 1 p.m., his first appearance in the extradition process.

A judge sealed the affidavit where Lincoln police lay out why they suspect him in the most recent shooting, and Bliemeister didn’t get into specifics or a motive at a news conference Thursday. 

He said the investigation was ongoing, but right now the evidence suggests Long was “the sole actor taking the life of Michael Whitemagpie.”

“Obviously we will continue to explore if there were others that may have involvements whether prior to, during the homicide itself or following,” Bliemeister said. 

Michael Whitemagpie

Michael Whitemagpie

Earlier in the week, he described the killing as an act of “targeted violence” but said investigators didn’t believe there was an ongoing threat to the public.

Investigators still were working to establish a timeline that led up to the shooting, exploring the motive for the killing and determining why Whitemagpie was in the alley, he said.

Bliemeister said the 31-year-old Lincoln man didn’t live in that area, but he and Long had known each other for years. 

“Establishing the ‘whys’ is something that we will continue to work on,” the police chief said Thursday.

Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon said they had not yet determined if they will seek the death penalty in the case.

“I guess there’s frustration when this type of event happens, that somebody who was involved in the criminal justice system is out on bond,” he said.

Long had been out of jail on bond in connection to a robbery in October, a shooting in November and a felony DUI in April at the time of Whitemagpie’s killing.

Man slain in central Lincoln alley overnight, police say

But, Condon said, the bonds set in those cases had been requested by his office, set by the court and were appropriate bonds for each of the offenses for which Long had been arrested and charged. 

On Nov. 5, police arrested Long for allegedly robbing a man in the parking lot of the Office Gentlemen’s Club at closing time Oct. 2. He posted $1,000 to get out of jail a day later.

On Jan. 10, they arrested Long again, this time on a second-degree assault charge based on a 20-year-old Lincoln woman’s allegation that she had been in a verbal argument with him at about 4 a.m. Nov. 1 when he shot her in the thigh with what she thought was a .22-caliber handgun near 21st and Garfield streets.

Long was out of jail six days later after posting $10,000 of a $100,000 bond.

Then, early April 23, Long was involved in a dramatic, rollover crash along O Street downtown. Police said he’d lost control of a Chevy Tahoe, fishtailed and made contact with a Nissan Murano, spinning it 90 degrees. The Tahoe overturned and slid on its side, in contact with the Murano for nearly an entire block, coming to rest upside down by Pickleman’s, they said in an affidavit for his arrest.

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Long’s BAC allegedly tested .196, more than double the legal limit. They arrested him May 15 for DUI-third offense.

Three days later, he had posted $7,500 of a $75,000 bond and was out.

Four days later came Whitemagpie’s shooting.

His family had a service for him Wednesday at the Indian Center.

Whitemagpie’s killing is the third homicide in the city this year. 

Edward Varejcka, 36, was fatally stabbed March 8 at an apartment in the Clinton neighborhood. Timothy Montgomery, 32, was fatally shot during a disturbance just before bar break at 13th and O streets March 15.

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Today’s jail mugshots

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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