The web of death and criminal activity along Winston Road was in full view again Thursday morning as crime scene tape stretched across the pavement with Columbus police technicians and detectives diligently working behind it.
There were at least 70 small yellow markers showing where shell casings fell in two spots less than 100 yards apart on the residential street sandwiched in what has become a war zone between Victory Drive and Fort Benning Road.
Emanul Banks, 18, was shot multiple times in front of the home at 1010 Winston Road early Thursday, the Muscogee County Coroner’s Office said. Less than 50 feet from where Banks was shot was a flower memorial to Damion “Dae-Dae” Collier, a man shot to death on May 2 by the Columbus Police Department’s Fugitive Unit when they tried to apprehend him on murder charges at 35th Street and River Road.
Just a few houses down from where Banks was shot, Darrell Boggans, 43, was gunned down on April 28. It was the second time Boggans had been shot that month. He was one of three people shot early Easter morning at Night Life club, an unlicensed business at 480 Andrews Road. Alec Spencer, 24, was killed in that shooting. Collier was being sought by police and was believed to be the shooter in Spencer’s death.
On Nov. 16, Steve Phillips, 30, was found shot to death in a wooded area on Winston Road. The area where Phillips was found was adjacent to where a number of the shell casings were found in this week’s homicide.
“We’ve got a gang problem and if they don’t do something about it, it’s going to get worse,” said the Rev. Willie Phillips, who lives in an adjacent neighborhood and has been a community activist in the area for more than three decades.
As a matter of fact, Banks was scheduled to appear in Muscogee County Superior Court Friday morning with three co-defendants to be arraigned on a variety of charges, including criminal gang activity, related to the June 2017 theft of five vehicles from Enterprise Rent-A-Car on South Lumpkin Road.
Late Thursday, police were not naming any suspects in Bank’s death. Maj. J.D. Hawk, who oversees the detective units, was careful in his words, but his frustration was evident.
“We need people to come forward and give us information so we can get these people off the streets,” Hawk said. “There are good people who live in that area. Somebody needs to come forward.”
As he worked the scene Thursday morning, Lt. Greg Touchberry was putting together the pieces of the latest shooting death on Winston Road. Banks was pronounced dead on the scene just after 2 a.m. and seven hours later police were combing through the evidence.
“Is all of this connected? We don’t know,” Touchberry said. “It’s way to early to tell that. But we are working it.”
The people in that neighborhood are scared, and rightfully so, Phillips said.
“It is not just on Winston Road, it’s on the back roads all around there,” Phillips said. “Gang members are everywhere. The gang members in that area are dealing drugs and fighting for territory.”
Phillips called for the city to reinstate the gang task force, which was dismantled years ago. Currently, Columbus police work gang-related activity through intelligence-led policing that touches a number of officers and departments.
“There’s prostitution, drugs and they are stealing vehicles,” Phillips said. “...They are riding the streets and you can hear the gunfire, and that’s to keep people afraid of talking to the police.”
It’s bad, Phlllips said.
“And if we don’t do something quick,” he said, “we haven’t seen anything yet.”