Four hospitalized after Columbus shooting, MBI handling case

Published 12:14 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

An investigation is under way into a shooting in Columbus that left four people hospitalized with gunshot wounds, including a former city councilman and a police officer.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was handed the case Friday at the request of local authorities. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department is assisting.

MBI officials said they are sorting through reports about the incident to determine what happened. No charges had been filed Saturday.

MBI Investigator Vernon Hathcock said he was “still trying to figure out what happened.”

Police Chief Joseph St. John, who reported exchange gunfire with the shooter, said he would not comment on the incident until the MBI investigation was completed.

Three people — former councilman Kamal Karriem, Dorothy Hearn and police officer Guy Taylor — were in stable condition Saturday at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus, according to hospital officials.

Lennell Hearn, who was identified by police as the shooter, was transferred late Friday from Baptist Memorial to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. His condition was not known Saturday.

Authorities said the first shots were fired just after 5 p.m. Friday in the Town Square Shopping Center. Dorothy Hearn and Karriem were shot near the gas pumps in the parking lot, officers said.

Taylor arrived at the scene and was allegedly shot by the suspect.

Columbus Police Department Lt. Carroll Culpepper said the suspect took Taylor’s car and later abandoned it on U.S. Highway 45. Lennell Hearn was wounded by officers outside the Best Western hotel, police said.

Sherwanda McDaniel, who was shopping at Town Square when the shooting took place, said she saw the suspect shoot the woman. She said Karriem came through the front door, holding his lower abdomen, warning patrons someone was outside shooting.

“After that, we ran into the bathroom. The police told us not to leave,” McDaniel said.