Police are still looking for a suspect in an early Thursday morning fatal shooting outside the Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus.
Cordell Deshaun Lewis, 27, of Columbus, died at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle from his injuries, Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant confirmed. An autopsy is likely to be scheduled for Monday in Jackson, Merchant said.
Columbus police were called to the Fifth Street scene at about 12:22 a.m., according to city public information officer Joe Dillon, while a party was taking place inside the city owned Trotter.
Dillon said four CPD officers and two security guards were present for the party, and when the shooting occurred outside, one of the police officers attempted to render aid to Lewis.
Before the shooting, Dillon said, security had broken up three altercations inside the Trotter. It’s unclear, he added, whether Lewis was part of any of those altercations.
No one has been arrested in the shooting.
Frankie Buckley booked the Trotter for the party, Dillon said. It was scheduled to end at 1 a.m. Alcohol apparently was present in the Trotter during the party.
Dillon said Buckley had booked events at the Trotter before “without any problems.”
Buckley, speaking with The Dispatch, said he had hosted four total events at the Trotter, and the Thanksgiving party was the second annual Citywide Kickback.
Though his paperwork indicated he expected 500 to attend, Buckley said there were “about 800 people in there” on Thursday.
“Different crowd. Different attitudes,” he said. “That’s what did it.”
Buckley said at the time of the shooting, people were starting to clear out of the Trotter and he was inside cleaning up. After the shooting, he said people began to “stampede” back inside to get to safety.
“I don’t know how or why it got started, but I hate it happened,” Buckley said. “We try to keep everything safe and fun, but if somebody shoots somebody right in front of the police, they were going to do it anyway.”
Buckley said he didn’t know Lewis personally, but he knew some of his family members. He offered them his condolences.
Speaking on behalf of Mayor Robert Smith in a prepared statement Friday morning, Dillon said city officials will look at necessary changes to the Trotter’s operations to mitigate violent crime occurrences there in the future. The statement, however, did not offer specifics.
“Mayor Smith said Friday morning that changes will be made and those changes can take place immediately since Trotter Center is a city owned and operated facility,” Dillon said. “The mayor will be meeting Monday with department heads and all those involved to institute a plan. Changes will be made.”
Lewis had been arrested at least nine times since 2011, according to previous Dispatch reports. Charges range from domestic violence, aggravated assault and drug charges to traffic violations.
This is the first reported homicide in Columbus this year.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.