Suspect in fatal shooting appears in court
One of four murder suspects in the November fatal shooting at 5 Corner Lotto pleaded not guilty Friday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Jalontaye Clay Cleveland, 18, of Columbus faces murder and aggravated assault charges related to the Nov. 6 incident. He was ordered held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
Columbus Police Sgt. Anthony Locey was called to the 5 Corner Lotto around 9:53 p.m. Nov. 6 to investigate a shooting. Officers on the scene at 1231 Linwood Blvd. found 23-year-old Patel and his 56-year-old father suffering from gunshot wounds.
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.
Police said the suspects waited outside of the store for the victims to exit. Officials watched a surveillance video that shows an SUV was circling the area.
Patel was closing the business with his father when the suspects approached them. Two were armed with handguns and one was on a cellphone, Locey testified.
One shot the father in the stomach through a gallon of milk he was holding.
Patel then tried to unlock the doors and go back into the store. One of the suspects continued to fire several shots, striking him in the upper back as he was fleeing with the other defendants.
Locey said Cleveland’s name surfaced during the murder investigation, but he declined to elaborate with two additional suspects still on the loose. He said Cleveland, who was shot in Phenix City, was in the hospital recovering when authorities arrived to the hospital to speak with him.
He told authorities that he was with his girlfriend and three of his male friends on the night of the shooting. He said he was riding around the south side of town.
Officials showed him surveillance video that showed a man arriving at the 5 Corner Lotto around 8 a.m. Nov. 6 in the dark SUV that was seen circling the building before the shooting.
Cleveland told police that 18-year-old Dominque Collins of Columbuus, his friend, was the individual in the video, Locey testified.
Cleveland’s hearing came one day after 18-year-old Dominique Collins of Columbus pleaded not guilty to the same charges. Additional warrants for murder and aggravated assault were issued for 26-year-old Courtney Williams of Stewart County and 30-year-old Kimberly Huffman of Columbus.
Huffman and Williams are still on the loose, authorities confirmed Friday morning.
Sgt. Anthony Locey said the suspects were waiting for the victims to leave the 5 Corner Lotto store on the night of Nov. 6. Vastal Patel was shot in the back as he tried to run back into the store.
Locey said two of the suspects had a weapon.