After the third homicide in three days in Columbus, a crowd spilled into the street on Fourth Avenue Tuesday before a police standoff ended with a suspect in custody.
Tamir Harris, 33, of Columbus was pronounced dead on the scene at 11:06 a.m. near 35th Street, said Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Charles Newton. His body will be transported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Decatur for an autopsy.
About three hours after the fatal shooting, Columbus police took a man into custody before the SWAT team prepared to enter an apartment on 32nd Street near Fifth Avenue.
The Special Weapons and Tactics team and the Hazardous Device Response team were on the scene at a 3200 block of Fourth Avenue apartment when a man walked outside, ending a police standoff around 2:30 p.m.
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Brandon Jarrell Senior, 31, was charged with one count of murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He is held in the Muscogee County Jail for a 9 a.m. Thursday hearing in Recorder’s Court.
Harris is the third homicide since Sunday in Columbus, said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. Harris’ death follows the 4:49 a.m. Sunday shooting of Cody Mathis, 21, in the area of 51st Street and 15th Avenue, and the 9:34 p.m. Sunday shooting of Nathan Johnson at 2229 Eighth St.
Police Maj. Gil Slouchick of the Investigative Services Bureau said police received a shooting call at 10:35 a.m. in the 3600 block of Fourth Avenue. Officers arrived on the scene and found Harris dead on the side of the street. Detectives had started their investigation when a large crowd gathered in the area.
Police learned that a possible suspect was located in an apartment on 32nd Street. Officers went to that scene, secured it and received enough information to seek a search warrant while police were still investigating the shooting death of Harris.
The SWAT team was called to serve the search warrant. Maj. Joe McCrea of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office said 12-15 deputies were on the scene along with the robot from the bomb squad but the device wasn’t needed.
“We were just here in support,” he said.
Slouchick said the man came out of the apartment about 10 minutes before SWAT was planning to enter the building. Police have started interviewing witnesses in connection with the shooting because they said that process was delayed with the standoff at the apartment.
“Because of the suspect information and having to go to 32nd Street, it delayed the interviewing of witnesses we had at headquarters,” the major said. “We had to go and deal with that first.”
Alix Berry, 68, said the heavy police presence and the madness in the area sent her outside of her 32nd Street home.
“This is the biggest tragedy for the families,” she said.
During her eight years in the community, Berry said she has watched out for the neighborhood. She has given people a meal when they were hungry and allowed some to take a shower in her home. She also knew Harris.
“It’s very sad,” she said.
In describing the activity in the neighborhood, Berry said it was total bedlam about 1 p.m.
“It was unbelievable,” she said. “People wanted to shoot the other. They wanted to look for a gun.”
Berry said Harris was in the streets. “He had a lifestyle that is not acceptable,” she said, standing near the apartment where authorities had converged.
The Rev. Mark Lawrence came to the scene with a sign to stop the violence. He started going to crime scenes in June. This was his 10th crime scene.
“We are tired of this happening in our community,” he said. “We’re going to have to let people know you aren’t going to be able to walk up my street and shoot up each other. We are going to pray for you, and I know that some might say that ain’t going to help. You can’t put a policeman on every corner, you can’t put a sheriff on every corner in Columbus.”
Tammy Cain of Phenix City, the mother of one of Harris’ friends, was shocked when she learned that someone she knew as a kind and generous man was killed. There were times he would pay other people’s utility bills, she said.
“We all got our faults, but he still had a big heart,” said Cain, who stated that Harris had children. “He was kind and easygoing. He was just a good person.”
The coroner said the city has recorded 25 homicides this year. The current total is one short of 26 homicides his office investigated during 2016.