Crime

Columbus midtown murder suspect had previous gang arrest at apartment complex

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The suspect charged in an Aug. 1 fatal shooting off Rigdon Road in midtown Columbus was just sentenced June 26 in a criminal trespassing case police connected to the Gangster Disciples street gang.

Gerald Wayne Reed, 21, is accused of shooting Jaylin Williams multiple times outside 3346 Wallace Drive, where the victim was lured out of the residence to be robbed, Detective Sherman Hayes testified Friday in Columbus Recorder’s Court, where Reed faced one count of murder.

The shooting was reported at 11 p.m. Williams, 20, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 1:30 a.m.

Hayes said Reed was one of three men who drew Williams outside, where the victim was riddled by bullets fired from “multiple caliber” guns, as evidenced by shell casings police found at the scene.

So far Reed is the only suspect named in the homicide. He was arrested that night as patrol officers responded to complaints of a man going to homes in the area, knocking on doors and asking to use the phone, Hayes said.

When police detained him, Reed was wearing a tank top, jogging pants and white socks, and was shoeless because his shoes were in the yard at Williams’ home, the detective said.

When investigators questioned him at police headquarters, Reed admitted he was involved in shooting Williams, whom he knew, Hayes said.

Other evidence police collected included surveillance video, text messages and Facebook postings, the officer said.

Authorities said they suspect the shooting was both drug- and gang-related.

Trespass

Police on Friday confirmed Reed is the same Gerald Wayne Reed III charged with three others July 24, 2018, for trespassing at Whisperwood Apartments, 6363 Flat Rock Road, where Reed allegedly threatened a resident.

Investigators accused the suspects of being associated with the Gangster Disciples, though charges of criminal gang activity later were dropped.

Police said the apartment complex had reported trouble with trespassing and hired officers to help secure the property.

An officer working there saw a vehicle tailgating a resident entering the apartments, and noticed the second vehicle tried to rush through the raised arm of a gate after the resident punched in his code.

When the resident tried to block the 2015 Chevy Malibu from getting in, Reed got out and threatened to kill him, police said. Other suspects followed the Malibu in a 2015 Honda Accord, officers said.

When the Malibu and Accord got into the complex, the occupants backed them into parking spaces against a fence, and then ran when police approached.

In the Accord, officers found a .45-caliber pistol, marijuana and a digital scale.

Though Reed initially was charged with making terroristic threats, along with 10 counts of criminal gang activity, the gang charges later were dropped and the terroristic threat count was reduced to simple assault.

In a negotiated plea deal on June 26, Reed’s simple assault charge was dismissed, and he pleaded guilty only to criminal trespass. Judge William Rumer sentenced him to serve eight months, though Reed likely was released early with credit for the time he already spent in jail.

The suspects arrested with Reed were given similar sentences. Police said they have no evidence those defendants were involved in Williams’ homicide.

Authorities said the gang charges resulted from Reed’s having a black bandana hanging from his pocket when he threatened the Whisperwood resident, and from gang symbolism the suspects used on Facebook. The color black is associated with the Gangster Disciples.

Police said the suspects had been using Whisperwood as a place to party.

“They were coming onto the property, using the pools, hanging out,” an officer said. “It’s not a party spot anymore.”

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.
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