Columbus police captured the alleged gunman in the fatal shooting of a motorist last April, but a detective said today that investigators remain at a loss for motive in what appears to have been a senseless killing.
After more than five months on the run, Oscar Senior, a 31-year-old ex-con, was jailed Thursday in the death of Charles Willis III. The shooting happened before 5 p.m. on April 13 near Lawyers Lane and Seventh Street.
Willis, 31, had been stopped in his car with his cousin, Douglas Body, when he recognized Senior across the way and called out to him. Senior approached the car and "for no reason" opened fire on both men, said Detective Daniel Lyon.
"I thought he was shooting in the air, then it started hitting the car," Body, a key witness in the case who identified Senior for police, said in an interview. "I said Charles, he's shooting for real ... and it was over with."
Willis was struck once in the head. Body managed to roll out of the vehicle and take cover as Senior fled the scene.
Recorder's Court Judge Julius Hunter questioned Lyon about motive at a preliminary court hearing this afternoon. The detective said authorities had none.
Over the course of his investigation, Lyon asked Body if it were possible Senior misidentified the men. The witness said he found that unlikely, but insisted there was "no beef" among the men.
Senior declined to give police a statement. "All he stated was he has the right to remain silent," Lyon said.
Senior, who has a lengthy criminal history, was charged with murder, aggravated assault and weapons charges. Hunter ordered him held without bond and bound the proceedings to Superior Court.
Body said he was relieved police finally caught up with Senior. "He made people laugh," Body recalled of Willis. "He wasn't a violent person. He'd try to help you before he hurt you."