Suspect in 5 Corner Lotto fatal shooting makes court appearance
As a trial date nears in the case against five suspects charged in a 2016 fatal shooting during an attempted robbery at Columbus’ 5 Corner Lotto store, two defendants have pleaded guilty to reduced charges.
Charged with murder in the Nov. 6, 2016, death of Vatsal Gautamkumar Patel were Dominique Collins, Joshua Tucker, Jalontaye Clay Cleveland and Courtney Trumaine Williams.
After their arrests, some suspects in the shooting were charged in other robberies that occurred between October 2016 and January 2017.
Collins, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday to armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and kidnapping. On Wednesday, his codefendant, Tucker, 19, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery.
Both are to be sentenced after next week’s trial, said Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly.
A fifth suspect, Kimberly Nickole Huffman, was indicted on allegations of attempted armed robbery, giving police false information and harboring a fugitive. Prosecutors said Huffman’s case will be handled separately, because she was not present during the attempted robbery, but let the others use her car, and later lied to police about the incident.
Police called at 9:53 p.m. to a shooting at the 5 Corner Lotto, 1231 Linwood Blvd., and found 23-year-old Vastal Patel and his 56-year-old father had been wounded in a robbery attempt, investigators said. Patel worked at the store and his father owned it.
Shot in the upper back, the bullet piercing his spine, Patel died at the hospital at 10:15 p.m. His father was wounded in the abdomen as a bullet passed through a gallon of milk he was holding. He was treated and later released.
The father and son were closing the store when three gunmen wearing masks and gloves confronted them at the door, police said. One of the would-be robbers stuck a gun in the father’s face, and started shooting when the father tried to swat the weapon away, authorities said. The gunmen fled after the shooting, and never entered the store.
In court Wednesday, Kelley said the evidence shows Cleveland was the triggerman who fired the shots that killed the son and injured the father.
The assault was recorded on security cameras, attorneys said.
Set for trial
Now Cleveland, 20, and Williams, 28, are the only defendants facing trial on Monday before Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters.
They face identical charges in these incidents:
▪ Murder, attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault in the 5 Corner Lotto case.
▪ Armed robbery in an Oct. 10, 2016, case.
▪ Armed robbery and aggravated assault in the same Oct. 15, 2016, case in which Tucker also was charged.
▪ Armed robbery and kidnapping in the Oct. 22, 2016, case in which Collins and Tucker also were charged.
▪ Armed robbery in a Jan. 13, 2017, case.
▪ Armed robbery in a Jan. 18, 2017, case.
Williams also is accused of making terroristic threats to Detective Anthony Locey on March 15, 2017. Williams, who was Huffman’s boyfriend at the time, is the fugitive Huffman is accused of harboring on that same date, leading to her charge of hindering police in apprehending the suspect.