Crime

Here’s what police say led to the fatal Columbus gas station shooting

The shooting Monday at a Macon Road gas station that left one Columbus man dead and another seriously wounded resulted from an alleged drug deal, a detective said Friday in Recorder’s Court.

Testifying in the murder case against Elijah Odom and Demario Lockhart, Detective Jason Carden said a friend in a red Volkswagen Jetta drove victims Justis Bolen and Xavier Tate to a Petro station at 6262 Macon Road.

That’s where they stopped in the parking lot before a gray Mitsubishi Gallant pulled up beside them, Carden testified.

Bolen and Tate got out of the Jetta and into the back seat of the Gallant before witnesses heard two gunshots, and Bolen then got back into the Jetta, Carden said.

As Bolen’s friend, who was not identified, sped away, the driver of the Gallant got out with what appeared to be an assault rifle, in the style of an AR-15, the detective said.

Police called at 5:41 p.m. to the Petro station found 19-year-old Tate wounded there. He was taken to Piedmont Columbus Regional, where he lost a kidney during surgery, Carden said.

Bolen’s friend drove the Jetta about a mile east to a Shell station at 6959 Macon Road where police were called to a second report of someone shot. Taken to the hospital, Bolen, 21, was pronounced dead at 6:52 p.m., the detective said.

Because Tate knew Odom from Shaw High School, police were able to identify and find him , Carden said. A police SWAT team arrested him Wednesday night at a home on Sonoma Pointe, the detective said.

Soon after Odom’s arrest, Lockhart called police, and surrendered to officers about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Carden said. Both Tate and the Jetta’s driver later picked the suspects’ pictures from a photo lineup, identifying them as the alleged assailants.

Carden said Lockhart, under questioning, told investigators Bolen and Tate jumped into the Gallant uninvited and shot first, and he fired back in self-defense, using a black and red handgun police later found at Lockhart’s home.

They also found a gun the defendants claim Bolen had, officers said.

At Odom’s home, officers found a .22-caliber rifle designed to look like an AR-15, matching the description witnesses gave, Carden said.

Police said the men met at the Petro station for a marijuana deal.

Odom and Lockhart, both 21, are charged with murder, aggravated battery and using a gun to commit a crime. Recorder’s Court Judge Robert Wadkins Sr. found probable cause to send the case to Muscogee Superior Court, ordering both held without bond.

Columbus attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents Odom, said after the hearing that he believes his client has a self-defense claim, and he will try to get Odom released on bond after the case is assigned to a Superior Court judge.

Carden said police seized cell phones from everyone involved, but they’ve yet to download that data. They also have yet to search the Gallant impounded at Odom’s home to look for bullets or shell casings for ballistics tests, and to review surveillance video from the Petro station, he said.

Anyone with more information related to the shooting is asked to contact Carden at 706-335-4395 or jcarden@columbusga.org.

Outside after the hearing, Bolen’s friends and family embraced and prayed together, some wiping away tears as they left.

Bolen’s death marked Columbus’ 28th homicide of 2019, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.

Tandra Smith is the Ledger-Enquirer’s newest reporter. A Georgia Southern University graduate, she’s covered everything from protests to hurricanes and more. Here in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley, she will focus on breaking and trending news.
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