The 15-year-old murder suspect charged in the Dec. 20 shootout at the Columbus Pawn Shop tried to sell an amp to the business before the incident, according to testimony Thursday in Columbus Recorder's Court.
He pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting that killed one man and wounded three others, including him. He was ordered held in the Aaron Cohn Regional Youth Detention Center without bond.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
The 21-year-old suspect who was wounded during the incident remains in the Midtown Medical Center. His current condition is unknown.
Columbus police declined to release his name or clarify whether he has been charged.
Authorities were called to the Columbus Pawn Shop at 2241 Fort Benning Road around 12:05 p.m. Dec. 20 to investigate a shooting. They found 68-year-old Joseph Howard Johnson III unresponsive inside of the business with a single gunshot wound to the head.
The part-time employee was pronounced dead on the scene at 12:30 p.m., Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Charles Newton said.
A second male employee was outside the business suffering from a gunshot wound to his left arm. The 15-year-old was found wounded in the middle of Torch Hill Road, just west of the shop, and the other suspect was found shot in a vacant lot about one block south of the business.
Columbus Police Maj. JD Hawk told the Ledger-Enquirer hours after the shooting that it appeared to be the result of a robbery attempt.
Cpl. Sherman Hayes told the court that the two suspects entered the pawn shop and tried to sell an amp, but the business declined. They returned to the establishment about 30 minutes later, according to police.
"Upon entering the business for a second time, just a few seconds were spent before gunfire was opened on Mr. Joseph Johnson," Hayes testified.
Police said the suspects "continued their activity inside the business" as more shots were fired, wounding the second employee.
"The employee then returned gunfire in subsequence," Hayes said. "At which time, several rounds of ammunition were exchanged between the two parties. During the gunfire, the 15-year-old and the second suspect fled the business."
The men allegedly damaged the door while fleeing. It was hanging off of its hinges.
Officials interviewed the 15-year-old at the hospital the following day. He allegedly said he met up with the 21-year-old suspect after being suspended from school.
He said they headed to the pawn shop, where he tried to sell an amp but was denied.
Hayes said the 15-year-old stated that they then went to the Circle K gas station, and the other suspect suggested they return to business to see what the shop would be interested in purchasing. He told police he was looking at his phone when shots were fired.
"(The 15-year-old) explained that he was standing by the door," Hayes told the court. "At which time, he suddenly heard a gunshot and he has identified that 'Q' fired the shot at Mr. Joseph Johnson. He explained that there was an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and the store employee."
Hayes said they believe there is surveillance video of the deadly shooting, but they have only reviewed parts of the video.
Attorney Mark Shelnutt, who represented the 15-year-old, said his client didn't know even know the other suspect was armed.
"(The 15-year-old) just didn't know what was going on," Shelnutt said. "He was not involved in that crime."