Suspect charged with murder in gas station shooting

A shooting early Friday near Fort Benning Road and Trask Drive left a Columbus man dead and another charged with murder in the death, police said.

Anthony Wayne Taylor, 44, appeared to have a gunshot wound in the back when police found him on the ground around 9:15 a.m. He was taken to Midtown Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 10:01 a.m. by Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley. Taylor’s body will be transported to Atlanta for an autopsy Saturday.

Jerry Wayne Merrit, 47, was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and charged with one count each of murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He is held at the Muscogee County Jail for a 2 p.m. hearing Saturday in Recorder’s Court.

Police Lt. Greg Touchberry said an investigation revealed that Taylor was shot at the Pure Gas Station at 1538 Fort Benning Road and he collapsed across the street.

An unidentified man approached the scene Friday morning, stepping under the police tape, and was tackled by officers. He could then be heard saying to police, “I turn myself in.”

After being apprehended, the man was returned to the scene in jail fatigues while officers searched the woods behind the gas station. Police confirmed that the man, later identified as Merrit, is being held as a suspect in the homicide.

Police interviewed six witnesses who were at the gas station at the time of the shooting.

Video of the homicide may have been captured on either the gas station’s surveillance camera or the nearby stop light camera, police said.

Six months ago, Merrit was identified as a suspect in an assault outside the same gas station in December. He was charged with aggravated battery in connection with the stabbing of a man in his lower back, shoulder and both thighs.

A man who identified himself as Earvin Hamilton said Taylor Sr. was his friend and that he had never done anything wrong.

“He was a leader,” Hamilton said.

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