The Phenix City man identified as a “person of interest” in the death of 83-year-old Peggy Gamble was smoking cocaine and telling police to kill him when they arrested him in an abandoned apartment on Lawyers Lane, according to testimony Thursday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Angelo Short, 42, was subdued with a stun gun before authorities apprehended him on an obstruction charge and one count of auto theft related to the beige 1988 Toyota Corolla missing from Gamble’s home following her death.
Columbus Police Detective Stewart Carter told the court they spotted Short Tuesday night running through a wooded area to an abandoned apartment at 730 Lawyers Lane. They found him in a vacant room.
“He kept yelling out and shouting that he wanted us to kill him,” Carter said. “He kept shouting out, ‘Kill me! Kill me!’”
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Police said Short took a pipe and smoked cocaine in front of police while continuing to tell them to shoot him. He had to be subdued with a stun gun before being taken into custody, according to police.
Short was identified as a person of interest in Gamble’s slaying one day after a relative reported finding her body Monday inside her 2324 Eighth St. home. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan declined to release the cause of death.
The detective identified Short as the step-grandson of Gamble, but her family disputed that claim during the hearing. A family member previously said Short is the stepson of Gamble’s older daughter, Miriam Short, who is married to Short’s father, Eddie.
Authorities said Monday afternoon they found evidence that someone had broken into the victim’s home, where she had been living alone since 1993. Gamble’s Toyota, which her family said was normally parked under her carport, was missing from the residence, Carter testified.
Officers responded to the area of 10th Street Monday night after three witnesses reported seeing Short leaving the missing Toyota at that location. Police said they responded to the scene, but the suspect couldn’t be located.
Tuesday morning, officers were called to the Piggly Wiggly at 910 Brown Ave. to investigate a robbery in which a black man entered the store and snatched a carton of Newport cigarettes from the cashier’s hand before punching her in the left eye and fleeing.
The incident left her with a swollen face, Columbus Police Detective Brad Hall said.
Hall said a witness’ husband saw the surveillance video of the robbery and identified the assailant as a man he knew as “DeAngelo.” He said he knew the man for 20 years, but he didn’t know his last name.
Police showed the man and witnesses a photographic line up, and they identified Short as the robber. The defendant was issued warrants for robbery and aggravated assault related to the theft.
On Wednesday, three additional witnesses told detectives that Short was driving the vehicle with a second unidentified individual in the passenger seat the night Gamble was killed. An auto theft warrant was then issued for Short.
“The car was processed and still is in the process of being forensically examined by our Crime Scene Investigation Unit,” Carter testified. “There have been prints lifted from the vehicle as well as blood evidence and DNA evidence. The search of the vehicle is still ongoing, so I cannot report the actual findings at this point, your Honor.”
On Tuesday, homicide detectives were informed that Short had been seen in the area of Coolidge Avenue.
“We had saturated that area throughout the whole morning and afternoon looking for the defendant,” Carter testified. “We were constantly getting information from the community that he was in this area sleeping in abandoned houses.”
Carter said they couldn’t find Short at the exact location they were given, but they set up a perimeter and arrested him after he was found in an abandoned apartment on Lawyers Lane.
Short received medical treatment on the scene before being transported to the police headquarters for questioning. He admitted to robbing the store and assaulting the cashier, but he declined to comment on the homicide and car theft.
Carter said he did admit to having visited Gamble’s home at least once before.
Gamble’s family thanks community
After the hearing, Miriam Short gave a statement thanking the community for their support.
“At this time, I would to thank the community for all their prayers, concern and all acts of kindness shown during my mother’s passing,” Miriam Short said. “I would like to give a special thanks to the Columbus Police Department.”