COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The day after a Columbus Superior Court jury convicted three gang members of multiple crimes including murder, the verdict was well received inside the city’s police department.
Inside the Columbus Police Department – the agency that initially worked on this homicide investigation – on Wednesday there was relief with this verdict that convicted gang members Roderick Glanton and brothers Homer and Terrance Upshaw.
And they credit the jury with getting it right.
On June 14, 2021 dozens of shots from an AR-style weapon rang out at Wilson Apartments, a public housing complex off Veterans Parkway near River Road.
18-year-old Saiveon Pugh and 17-year-old Jesse Ransom were killed. Two others in the car were seriously injured. All were Zohannon criminal street gang members.
Here’s what the first officer on the scene saw.
“It was very bad,” said Capt. Matt Blackstock. “Any time you see a car with a group of young men in it shot up as bad as these young men were shot, an ambush is a very terrible thing. And it stays with you. And this one will stay with me.”
It took more than two years to get the case against Glanton and the Upshaw brothers – members of the Marlo criminal street gang — into a courtroom.
And the state brought out its top gang prosecutor fresh off a triple-murder conviction last month in Dougherty County. Cara Convery, the head of a new gang prosecution unit inside the Attorney General’s office personally prosecuted the case. She put the gang members, the Columbus gang culture, and the crime inside Wilson Apartments on trial.
“I know Wilson Apartments having patrolled that area for several years,” Blackstock said. “I understand that that place does have a lot of gang activity. The crime up there can be centered around a lot of the gangs that infiltrate that area. And pretty much have a stranglehold at times in Wilson Apartments.”
The state tried a gang case. The first charges on the indictment were gang charges, not murder charges.
The jury convicted the three co-defendants on all 60 counts in that indictment.
Blackstock spent an hour and a half testifying to that jury.
“My point was it was just a group of older people that represented the city of Columbus in a professional way,” the police captain said. “And I think they did a fantastic job. I think they got it right.”
Blackstock said the jurors sent a message.
“A big message,” he said.
A message that police Chief Stoney Mathis said was needed in this community.
“They care about it, the community,” Mathis said. “And I’m very proud of this set of jurors. But it’s just important. And it’s the stuff I’ve been hearing since I’ve been here, people calling me, telling me they’re just sick and tired of this violent crime. They’re tired of being a prisoner in their own home. And I think this jury sent that same message.”
The sentencing for Glanton and the Upshaw brothers is scheduled for November 29. They are facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The GBI, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office assisted on the investigation.