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Murder suspect was testing gun when he shot 74-year-old man, Columbus police say

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Police describe this as a "possible suspect vehicle" in the the shooting death of William Meadows, 74, at 1545 Alta Vista Drive, Columbus. It was observed driving down Alta Vista Drive when the shots were fired. The video was edited for clarity.
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Police describe this as a "possible suspect vehicle" in the the shooting death of William Meadows, 74, at 1545 Alta Vista Drive, Columbus. It was observed driving down Alta Vista Drive when the shots were fired. The video was edited for clarity.

Raphael Antwone Raymond was testing a pistol he was thinking of buying the day he fired out a car window and fatally shot 74-year-old William Meadows, who was sitting in his car in his garage, detectives said Wednesday.

Investigators believe the shooting occurred on April 28 about 4 p.m., as that’s around the time neighbors reported hearing gunfire, but Meadows’ body was not found until some friends came to his 1545 Alta Vista Drive home about 10:30 a.m. the next day.

On May 1, police asked the public’s help in locating a light-colored Kia Soul witnesses saw on Alta Vista Drive the day of the shooting, but for weeks how Meadows came to be shot remained a mystery.

Now investigators believe Raymond, 26, was riding in a car with two others, one of whom was showing Raymond a Canik 9 mm pistol, police said. Raymond was skeptical because of the weapon’s polymer frame, which feels like plastic, and wanted to be sure the gun would fire, officers said.

So they drove around, with Raymond firing out the car window, and that is how Meadows came to be shot in the head behind his right ear, while sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, in his garage, at his home, on a Saturday afternoon, detectives said.

The bullet had traveled through the rear window of Meadows car.

Officers said they have found no evidence that Meadows and Raymond knew each other, so they’d had no personal conflict that would provoke violence.

Police arrested Raymond on Monday. He was in Columbus Recorder’s Court on Wednesday, facing a felony murder charge based on his allegedly causing Meadows’ death while committing the felony of first-degree criminal damage to property.

Judge Julius Hunter found probable cause to send the case to Muscogee Superior Court. Raymond is being held without bond.

In an April 29 interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, Meadows’ neighbor Jay Browder described the victim as a friendly man who took meticulous care of his yard and didn’t bother anyone: “He did his landscaping on his yard all the time. He’d wave at us and we’d wave back, just being normal people.”

Browder said he had heard gunshots between 4 and 5 p.m. the day before Meadows’ body was found, and called police to investigate. Officers responded to his complaint, but found no suspects.

Police collected several shell casings the next day, after the death was discovered.

According to his obituary, Meadows was born in Santa Barbara, Calif., served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam, and worked as an architectural inspector in the construction industry. His hobbies included wood working, photography and growing exotic trees.

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