It was physical fight between two motorcycle gangs at the 4th Quarter Sports Bar that sparked the fatal Oct. 9 shootout in which 63 rounds were fired, according to testimony made in Recorder's Court Friday afternoon.
Daginald Wheeler, 52, of Columbus; James Daniel Jr., 36, of Pine Mountain; and Demark Ponder, 47, of LaGrange, were all charged with one count each of murder and armed robbery stemming from the incident. Ponders faces an additional charge of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a crime.
Columbus Police Detective David Stokes said authorities were called Oct. 29 around 11:20 p.m. to the shooting of multiple victims at the 4th Quarter Sports Bar at 6969 Macon Road. Dominic Mitchell was taken to Midtown Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of two gunshot wounds to the chest just before midnight, officials stated.
Around that same time police arrived on the scene, three wounded people, including Ponder, appeared in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital. Ponder, who sustained a gunshot wound to the right leg, and Daniel arrived at the hospital together dressed in all black and traveling on white Harley-Davidson motorcyles.
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Reports indicate that the second victim, identified as a 49-year-old Columbus man, was shot in the stomach. Police didn't specify the third patient's injuries.
Stokes said surveillance video from the bar shows that the "Strikers" motorcycle gang was holding a meeting at the 6959 Macon Road bar when about 13 members of the "Outcast" motorcycle gang arrived. Stokes noted that "Outcast" arrived to the scene on eight motorcycles traveling in a single file line.
"Outcast,"dressed in all black, initiated a fight with the "Strikers" that led to 63 rounds being fired at the scene. During the attack, a man was beaten and robbed of his motorcycle, which police said is the basis of the suspects' armed robbery charge.
During the investigation, Stokes said police found a receipt on a gun purchase from Ponder. A gun matching the one on the receipt was seized at the scene. To identify the suspect in the shooting, Stokes said a photo lineup was conducted with witnesses at the bar and Ponder was identified as the shooter.
Police also determined that he is a member of "Outcast."
Stokes told the court that Daniel caught police's attention, because he arrived at the hospital with Ponder. A witness identified Daniel on a photo lineup as an "Outcast" member involved in the deadly shootout.
Stokes said police found a gun on Daniels' motorcycle, and they are conducting an ongoing test to see if the weapon found in his possession was used in the shootout.
Stokes said authorities were also told that a business owner nicknamed "Headquaters" orchestrated the fatal confrontation as the president of "Outcast" motorcycle gang's local chapter. Authorities executed a search warrant Wednesday for the residence and unspecified business, and learned that Wheeler owned both places.
"During an execution of the search warrant of Wheeler's residence, police located a black Harley-Davidson motorcycle that featured 'Outcast' logos," Stokes said. "The motorcycle appeared to be the same motorcycle that we saw in the surveillance footage before Recorder's Court started."
Police said Wheeler was later identified in a photo lineup as the leader of "Outcast" and one of the people who fired shots at the business. Officials said they don't have concrete evidence that indicates that he constructed the shootout, but they assume that he did based on how uniformed the attack was in it's beginning stages.
Daniel and Wheeler pleaded not guilty their charges today in Recorder's Court, and Ponder pleaded not guilty to his charges during an Oct. 16 preliminary hearing. All three suspects were ordered held in Muscogee County Jail without bond.
— Sarah is a crime and safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.