A Columbus man leaving a high school basketball game was jailed Friday night after police found a loaded AK-47 automatic rifle in the back seat of his car, authorities said.
Terrance Williams, 21, was arrested about 10:15 p.m., shortly after a fight broke out in the gymnasium at Kendrick High School. Kendrick had defeated Carver High School about 30 minutes earlier in front of a rowdy crowd that filled the gym to capacity.
Unlike semi-automatic AK-47s available in stores today, the rifle Williams was carrying was fully automatic and lacked a safety lever or selector switch, police said. Williams was charged with two felony counts: possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of a weapon at a school function.
Williams posted $10,000 bond and was released today from the Muscogee County Jail.
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A police officer working security at the school was escorting students from the gym who were involved in the fight when a woman flagged him down. According to police reports, the woman said she heard two men say they had weapons. Police stopped Williams' vehicle as he and another man were leaving the campus "in a hurry," the reports show.
Williams admitted to police that he had a weapon, and officers found the loaded black-and-yellow Draco assault rifle on the backseat of his car. Police said the gun was not thought to have been taken into the game.
"As far as we know, it was just in the backseat of the car," Capt. J.D. Hawk said.
Williams' court-appointed defense attorney, Charles Lykins, said he has "serious doubts" about the type of weapon police claim Williams had, noting investigators did not test-fire the weapon to determine it was, indeed, an automatic rifle.
“It’s really hard to get a weapon of that type that fires on automatic fire," Lykins said. "In essence, they claimed it was a machine gun."
Williams told investigators he purchased the weapon at Shooters of Columbus, a popular indoor range and gun shop. An employee named Matt who refused to give his last name said the store does not carry automatic AK-47 rifles.
"The only ones we sell are semiautomatic, civilian legal guns," he said.
Carver boys basketball coach Warren Beaulah said the gym was "pretty much packed" Friday night for the rivalry game.
"During the halftime, it got a little rambunctious out there," Beaulah said, adding he had not been aware of the arrest. "Normally on games we consider to be more of a rivalry, we bring in a little additional security. Normally these games are incident free, but you just err on the side of caution."