Suspect in 5 Corner Lotto fatal shooting makes court appearance
Vastal Patel was closing the 5 Lotto Corner store with his father when he was fatally shot outside of the business, according to testimony Thursday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Dominique Collins, 18, pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated assault in the Nov. 6 shooting that killed 23-year-old Patel and wounded his 56-year-old father.
Collins plea came less than 48 hours after officials announced that additional murder warrants were issued in the case for 26-year-old Courtney Williams of Stewart County, 30-year-old Kimberly Huffman of Columbus and 18-year-old Jalontaye Clay Cleveland of Columbus.
Cleveland is in custody awaiting a 9 a.m. Friday hearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court, while Williams and Huffman remain on the loose.
Columbus Police Sgt. Anthony Locey said authorities were called to the 5 Corner Lotto around 9:53 p.m. Nov. 6 after shots were fired at the 1231 Linwood Blvd business. Officers on the scene found Patel with a gunshot wound in the upper back and his father with a gunshot wound in the stomach.
Patel, who was employed at the 5 Corner Lotto, and his father, who owns the business, were transported to Midtown Medical Center. Patel was pronounced dead at the hospital at 10:15 p.m. His father was treated and later released after undergoing emergency surgery.
Locey said police have obtained surveillance video that shows three armed black men approaching the victims outside of the store as they were closing the business. It also shows a dark SUV circling the business, officials said.
Authorities said the men attempted to rob the father and son before one of them shot them. The men fled without any stolen property, authorities confirmed. A .380 caliber shell casing was found at the scene.
Locey said they have reviewed another surveillance video that shows the same SUV arrive at the business earlier that day at 8 p.m. A young black man exited the vehicle and walked into the store to ask for the clerk for something before leaving in the SUV, according to police.
Authorities sent the video to the media hoping that someone would be able to identify the man. Officials identified that individual as Collins and issued a murder warrant for his arrest.
According to WMSK’s website, Collins was arrested by members of the Union County Sheriff’s Office after law enforcement in Columbus gave them information on the murder suspect.
Police reports confirm that Collins was arrested at 10:17 a.m. Monday at the Webster County Detention Center in Dixon, Ky. Locey said they interviewed the suspect during the trip back to Columbus and after they arrived at police headquarters.
Collins, who was represented by Charles Lykins, didn’t testify in court.
Judge Julius Hunter ordered him held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond. The case was bound over to Superior Court.