Crime

Man charged in Columbus double-homicide has witnesses in fear for their lives, detective says

A man charged in an August double-homicide has witnesses in fear for their lives, a detective testified Friday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

Earl Johnson, 37, was arrested at his residence on Tuesday and charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the shooting on Aug. 25 at Mellon Street Apartments, 423 Mellon St., said police Sgt. Dexter Wysinger.

Wysinger testified officers found Johnson at the apartments, where he denied being involved in the incident. He reportedly told police he entered the apartment after the shooting and helped a wounded man get to his feet before the man ran off.

But witnesses said they saw Johnson shooting in the apartment, and neighbors told police Johnson afterward went door-to-door threatening residents if they spoke to investigators, Wysinger said.

“This investigation is ongoing and all the witnesses and families are in fear of their lives,” Wysinger said.

When police brought Johnson in for questioning, he admitted he was at the apartment with an assault-style rifle, but claimed he did not shoot anybody, Wysinger said.

Police seized Johnson’s vehicle and two cell phones. Searching his home, officers found ammunition consistent with some of the shell casings found at the scene, said Wysinger, who added police found casings of multiple calibers.

Lamonte Muff, 28, and Lyatray Buchanan, 24, were shot inside the 423 Mellon St. apartments and later died of their injuries at Piedmont Columbus Regional. A third victim, Joshua Brown, was found shot seven minutes later near Canty Place and Cusseta Road.

Brown survived after multiple surgeries at Piedmont Columbus Regional, and police determined his shooting was related to Muff and Buchanan’s, Wysinger said.

Judge Julius Hunter found probable cause to send Johnson’s case on to Muscogee Superior Court, ordering the suspect held without bond.

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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