Angry after breaking up with his girlfriend of five years, Ulysses Wiggins vented his rage by fatally shooting a bystander during an altercation late Tuesday at a Talbotton Road apartment building, a witness testified Wednesday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
That single bullet fired from a handgun ripped through Catherine Walker’s chest and came out her back, police said. The 24-year-old woman was pronounced dead shortly before midnight at The Medical Center.
Wiggins, 51, was arrested on 16th Avenue just five to 10 minutes after the 11:30 p.m. shooting. Police Detective Wayne Fairbairn said Wiggins lives at 2316 16th Ave., which is within walking distance of the 1410 Talbotton Road apartments where Walker was shot.
It was in the building’s rear parking lot that Wiggins accosted his ex-girlfriend, Vallorice Caple, about 10:30 p.m. as she got into a car to leave the building where she had been visiting family, witnesses said. Wiggins reached into the car, grabbed Caple by her shirt and tugged at her, then began choking her, they said.
“I had to grab him off of her and pull him to the side,” said Carolyn Senior, Caple’s niece.
Other relatives finally ran Wiggins off, witnesses said, but he returned in about 15 minutes with a gun. Senior testified that Wiggins told Caple, “I will kill you. I am going to kill you.”
Wiggins also approached some of Caple’s younger relatives, who earlier had chased him off. They fled. Caple said she ducked into an apartment before hearing a shot. She looked back and saw Wiggins running away.
One witness said he saw Wiggins turn the gun on Walker. “I saw him shoot her,” said Octavia Short, who testified that while others fled, Walker did not.
Appointed to represent Wiggins, attorney Charles Lykins wondered why Wiggins would target Walker.
“She just happened to be the only one close to him at the time?” Lykins asked.
“Yes sir,” said Short.
Fairbairn said investigators got conflicting views from witnesses asked whether Walker was involved in Wiggins' earlier altercation with Caple. Some said Walker was involved; others said she was not, he said.
He said police searched Wiggins’ home and found no gun.
In court Wednesday, Wiggins claimed he never had one.
“What I had was not a pistol. It was a stick,” he told Recorder’s Court Judge Mary Buckner. He said the person who shot Walker was one of Caple’s earlier defenders, who was trying to shoot him. The gun was fired from the top of some steps, he said, adding, “The reason I ran is I had a little bag of weed in my pocket.”
Fairbairn said Wiggins’ version of the shooting did not match Walker’s wound. The bullet hole had residue indicating a shot fired at close range, and the exit wound didn’t fit the angle of a shot fired from a higher elevation.
Buckner decided to send Wiggins’ case to Muscogee Superior Court, ordering him held without bond in the county jail. He faces charges of murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possessing marijuana.