A 35-year-old Columbus man was found shot to death in his back yard on Clover Avenue early Saturday, authorities said.
The victim was identified as Lonny Braxton of 351 Clover Ave., said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. His body will be sent to the crime lab in Decatur for an autopsy on Monday.
Bryan said Braxton was pronounced dead of multiple gunshots at the scene at 9:15 a.m. Based on observations by a neighbor, Bryan said the victim probably was shot sometime before 9 p.m. Friday. A neighbor saw the man in the back yard and thought he was asleep.
The victim was in the back yard when the neighbor went to work at 2 a.m. The neighbor called authorities after the man was still at the scene when the neighbor returned from work.
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Police Lt. Greg Touchberry of the Investigative Services Bureau said police were called about 8 a.m. about a person shot. Braxton was found dead after police arrived.
A woman who lives a couple of houses away said she was up watching television about 11 p.m. Friday when she heard what she thought were firecrackers. “I thought it was firecrackers,” said the woman who didn’t want to be identified. “I didn’t get up ’cause we always hear stuff like that popping around here.”
Winston Charleston, a next-door neighbor, said he didn’t hear any shots but said he met his neighbor more than a month ago. A tall man with a hat came to his door, but he only talked to him through the screened door.
“He had on a hat and dreadlocks,” Charleston said. “He said I just want to let you know I live next door. I said OK.”
Braxton’s death marks the 33rd homicide recorded by the Muscogee County Coroner’s Office and the 27th investigated by the Columbus Police Department. Charleston said the death brings tears to his eyes. “If the funeral directors take it hard, you know I take it hard,” he said.
Charleston, 69, said he served two tours of duty in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. In those days, he said, fights to resolve disputes didn’t involve weapons, and participants came away as friends. Things have changed with young people today, he said.
“It used to be fistfight,” he said. “Now, it’s with a gun.”
Something has always stuck with Charleston after a brief conversation with his new neighbor. “I’ve got to make a run,” the man told him. “What kind of job is there a run you make?”
While police detectives interviewed potential witnesses and investigated the scene, officers blocked all traffic to the street at Cusseta Road and Clover Avenue and also 32nd Avenue and Clover Lane. The road was reopened for traffic about 12:45 p.m. after the victim was removed from the driveway.
Anyone with information in connection with the shooting or the actions of Braxton over the prior 24 hours should contact Police Sgt. Daniel Lyon at 706-225-4422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.