The local Fraternal Order of Police holds a petition drive today to keep the man who gunned down a patrol officer 25 years ago in prison.
The FOP will solicit signatures opposing parole for Lonnie Gene Botts starting at 10 a.m. in the community room of the Columbus Public Safety Center, 510 10th St.
Botts pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison for shooting 26-year-old Officer Thomas “Spanky” Bowen twice in the forehead March 11, 1984, as Bowen approached Botts’ getaway car after it wrecked during a chase.
Responding to a 4 a.m. alarm at a 3201 Macon Road restaurant then called the Bombay Bicycle Club, Bowen saw Botts’ car fleeing the scene and pursued it. The driver lost control at Edgewood Road and Auburn Avenue and wrecked in a yard. Bowen radioed that he was going to check on the driver, and was not heard from again.
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A second officer found Bowen lying there, shot in the head. Botts had fled, but later surrendered to police.
Workers at the restaurant reported that a masked man attempted to rob the business, but fled when an alarm sounded. Along with the murder charge, Botts in November 1984 pleaded guilty to three counts of false imprisonment and three of aggravated assault for pointing his pistol at three restaurant employees and forcing them into a storage room.
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole got nearly 2,800 letters in opposition to freeing Botts when last he was up for parole in March 2005.