A 74-year-old Columbus man was found shot to death in his car Sunday morning, the day after residents heard multiple shots in the neighborhood.
The victim, William Meadows, was found parked in his garage located at 1545 Alta Vista Drive, said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
Columbus police were called to the scene at about 10:31 a.m., according to a news release from officials. Upon their arrival, officers discovered Meadows deceased at his residence.
Meadows died of gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at 11 a.m., according to the coroner.
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He said it appears Meadows had been dead since about 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The garage doors were open.
“We still don’t know if he had just pulled in or was fixing to pull out,” Bryan said. “We don’t know which one it was.”
Bryan said the bullet entered the right back passenger window of the car, striking Meadows who sat in the driver’s seat.
He said neighbors had called 911 to report hearing gunshots in the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. Shell casings were found at the scene.
Meadows’ death is the 13th homicide handled by the Muscogee Coroner’s Office this year, Bryan said. The case is still under investigation.
Meadows lived in what neighbors described as a quiet area. On Sunday, his meticulously landscaped home was cordoned off with yellow tape. Police had placed numbered markers next to every shell casing they found in the neighborhood. The casing in front of the home next door was number 8.
Jay Browder, 50, lives two doors down with his parents. He said he heard gunshots in the neighborhood between 4 and 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon and he called police to investigate. He said officers came out and didn’t find anything before Meadows was discovered in his garage the next morning.
“All I can tell you is that there was a drive-by shooting,” Browder said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer on Sunday. “... I think we need to have more police, especially when people are around shooting. It could have been a kid or another neighbor in the backyard.”
He said Meadows was a decent man who didn’t bother anyone.
“He did his landscaping on his yard all the time,” he said. “He’d wave at us and we’d wave back, just being normal people.”
William Dickson, an Atlanta resident, said his late father-in-law was Browder’s next door neighbor. Dickson said he was working on his father-in-law’s house Sunday morning when a family who helped Meadows do yard work tried to find him. When Meadows didn’t answer the front door, Dickson helped the family look for him. They found Meadows’ body in the garage and then called police.
Dickson said Meadows was into landscaping and exotic trees.
“He was nice to me and I’m so sad to see this,” he said of the elderly man's untimely death. “He offered to help me do things and loaned me his tools if I needed them.”
Browder’s mother, Valree, said she’s shocked by the way Meadows died and worries it could happen again.
“It’s scary,” she said. “I have grandkids coming over. They play in the front yard and that is really threatening to me. ... We normally don’t have anything like that happen on this street.”
Police are asking for anyone with information about the homicide or Meadows’ activities over the last 24 hours to contact Corporal Stuart Carter at 706-225-4319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.