YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The suspect in the March 4 shooting outside a South Side bar that killed a man and injured a security guard was also wounded. He told Youngstown police that he was injured after a gun went off accidentally while he was roughhousing.
The revelations came Wednesday during a preliminary hearing in municipal court for Erik Jenkins, 25, who is charged with the March 4 shooting of Thomas Williams, 34, across the street from a bar at South and East Lucius avenues and the wounding of a security guard at that bar, Montell Scott.
Scott was supposed to testify in the hearing, but he ignored a subpoena and did not show up to court.
Judge Rene DiSalvo ruled there was probable cause for a Mahoning County grand jury to hear charges of murder and felonious assault against Jenkins.
Police said Jenkins, accompanied by another man, fired several shots about 11:55 p.m. March 4 toward Scott, who was working security on the back porch, and Scott returned fire.
Williams was across the street and hit in the head by a bullet and killed. Police do not yet know whose gun fired the bullet that killed Williams, but Jenkins is charged with his murder because police say he began the course of conduct that led to the events that took the life of Williams.
Detective Sgt. Chad Zubal, the lead investigator in the case, testified that as he and his partner Detective Sgt. Dave Sweeney were interviewing Scott in St. Elizabeth Health Center shortly after the homicide, Jenkins was admitted with a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Since he was wounded within the same time period that two other people were shot, the detectives interviewed Jenkins, who told them he was at a West Side apartment complex wrestling with his brother when a gun fell off a dresser and went off, wounding him.
He initially went to an urgent care facility in Austintown but was transferred to St. Elizabeth because of his gunshot wound. He refused to tell the investigators who his brother is, Zubal testified.
Zubal watched two hours of video from the apartment complex that was roughly the same time frame as the homicide and never saw anyone leave the building Jenkins claimed he was in, Zubal testified. A few days later, Jenkins gave a slightly different version of the story in a statement to police.
Zubal also played footage from video cameras at the bar that recorded the shooting, In an angle from the parking lot, two men, one of whom Zubal said is Jenkins, walk across the parking lot. The lead person, who Zubal said was Jenkins, begins firing a gun.
Several people in the parking lot are seen scattering to get out of the way and a few cars also leave rapidly, including one that backed out onto South Avenue and almost ran over two people who were hiding behind it when the gunfire broke out.
In another angle from behind Scott, who was on the back porch, a figure appears and several muzzle flashes can be seen. Scott turns his back and scrambles out of the way, although he can not be seen firing a gun. Flying dust from bullets striking the walls can be seen in the video as well.
Zubal said investigators found a dozen .40-caliber shell casings that came from Scott’s gun and a dozen 9mm casings from the gun that was fired by the shooter. Ballistic tests are being done to see which caliber of bullet hit Williams, Zubal said.
Zubal also played footage from security cameras from two businesses on South Avenue, south of where the shooting took place, which he said shows Jenkins and the other person walking toward the bar. In one of the shots taken a block and a half away, Zubal said the image was good enough that he was able to conclude that the person was Jenkins. The person in the video had the same all-black clothing that the person in the other videos was wearing.
Scott also identified Jenkins as the person who shot him from a photo lineup, Zubal testified, although Zubal also testified that Scott thought Jenkins was another person.
Defense attorney Tony Meranto said he found it hard to believe that Zubal was able to identify Jenkins as the person who was doing the shooting because the video of the shots being fired was taken from far away.
Police are still looking for the man who accompanied the person they say is Jenkins when the shots were fired. Anyone with information can call the Detective Bureau at 330-742-8911; the department’s Tip Line at 330-742-8YPD; or Crimestoppers Youngstown at 330-746-CLUE.