Robert Beck, the suspect in a June 22 shooting at Cracker Barrel, flashes gun signs as Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton leads him into the Columbus Municipal Complex Courtroom for his arraignment Monday. Beck is charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon and is being held without bond in Lowndes County Adult Detention Center. Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff
July 3, 2018 10:12:19 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Before Robert Beck even made it into the courtroom for his arraignment in Columbus Municipal Court Monday, the suspect in a June shooting at Cracker Barrel was smirking and flashing gun signs at photographers.
Beck, 28, faces attempted murder for the June 22 shooting in the 18th Avenue North restaurant. He is being held in Lowndes County Adult Detention Center without bond after Judge Rhonda Hayes-Ellis determined he is dangerous and a flight risk.
According to police, Beck entered Cracker Barrel at about 4:30 p.m. on June 22 looking for his ex-girlfriend, who is an employee at the restaurant. Beck had already been banned from Cracker Barrel's premises. When he arrived, he became involved in an altercation with multiple employees. Beck shot an assistant manager and fled the scene.
While the assistant manager was treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle for what Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said were life-threatening injuries, authorities caught Beck at a traffic stop in Cookeville, Tennessee, the next day and returned him to Columbus Thursday. The victim has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, Shelton said.
Though Beck said he "knew what he did was wrong and all that," he was flippant throughout the arraignment, answering the judge's questions with "yep." He also turned away from Hayes-Ellis when she denied him bond until a nearby police officer told Beck to face the judge.
Though Beck was initially charged with aggravated assault, Shelton said after the arraignment that investigators with Columbus Police Department and the District Attorney's Office decided to upgrade the charge to attempted murder.
"We felt that his intent was to kill the victim in this case," Shelton said after the arraignment.
During the arraignment, Hayes-Ellis took about a 5-minute recess to watch surveillance footage from Cracker Barrel that Shelton said shows Beck entering and leaving the restaurant, as well as "activity inside."
Assistant District Attorney Collen Hudson also spoke at the arraignment where she requested Beck's bond be denied on the grounds that he was both a danger to the community and a flight risk. She pointed out he had entered a public place and opened fire in an open part of the building where both employees and patrons were present, and that the victim he shot was not even the person he had gone into Cracker Barrel looking for.
"There was no concern for anyone else's safety," Hudson said. "... I don't think this community would be safe with Mr. Beck out on bond."
Hudson also pointed out Beck's escape to Tennessee suggests he poses a flight risk.
"The defendant left the city, left the county and eventually left the state ... an indication that there is some (flight) risk," she said.
Beck told Hayes-Ellis he knew what he'd done was wrong and that he did not feel as though he was a danger to society.
However, Hayes-Ellis denied his bond, saying she agreed with Hudson and the DA's Office after viewing the surveillance footage from Cracker Barrel.
Hayes-Ellis also told Beck he could not contact any Cracker Barrel employees, including his ex-girlfriend, which Beck said would "break her heart."
Beck has also been charged with one count of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon for an unrelated drug charge.
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