The confusing case of a gunfight Monday at Columbus’ Primus King Park was not clarified much by a preliminary hearing Wednesday for five suspects facing aggravated assault charges.
Their case now goes to Muscogee Superior Court to be sorted out.
Police said witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots at the Staunton Drive park about 8:30 p.m.
A teenager told police he saw a man who was firing a handgun and fell, possibly wounded, then sat up and continued to shoot. A red car stopped, the gunman got inside, and the car sped off, the witness said.
Police en route to the park were told those wounded already were on their way to the hospital. At The Medical Center officers found a red Chevrolet Impala and its owner, Kenny Miller, along with Scott Phillip, Alec Spencer and Kaerain Rose. A fifth man was being treated for gunshot wounds to his leg, arm and stomach.
In the car detectives found blood and two guns, a .357 and a .380 caliber, a detective testified Wednesday.
Also that evening a resident reported seeing someone park a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria scarred with bullet holes at Shelby Street and Clubhouse Road, open the trunk, throw items from the trunk into the woods, and then walk away.
That led the arrest of the car’s owner, Damien Merriweather, police said. Detectives said they found .40-caliber shell casings in the car and at the park. Each of the five men was charged with aggravated assault after they gave investigators varying accounts of what happened at the park.
Miller testified Wednesday that he had offered Spencer and Phillip a ride, and they just happened to be passing the park when they heard gunfire, saw two men were wounded and stopped to give them a ride to the hospital. Miller said he knew nothing about the guns police found in his Chevy Malibu.
Merriweather testified that he had driven his Crown Victoria to the park to meet someone who had offered to sell him an iPhone. He said a passenger in his vehicle he knew only by a nickname returned fire when the shooting began.
Rose said he was just hanging out in the park when a car pulled up and someone tried to steal money from his pocket. He said he threw the money down and tried to get away, but passed out when a bullet grazed his head. Miller picked him up to take him to The Medical Center, Rose said.
Detectives said Spencer told them he was with Miller and Phillip in the Chevy Malibu when he saw Rose and another man approach the Crown Victoria, and then the shooting started.
Recorder’s Court Judge Julius Hunter set a bond of $100,000 on each suspect’s aggravated assault charge and $10,000 on each man’s charge of using a firearm to commit a crime.
Merriwether faced two counts of aggravated assault; the others only one.
The judge also gave Miller a $10,000 bond on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and set bonds of $250 each on Rose’s additional charge of giving police a false name and Spencer’s misdemeanor charge of possessing marijuana.