Columbus police need your help piecing together how a local man ended up shot to death in an abandoned truck off Wynnton Road early Sunday morning.
The victim’s girlfriend, Tiffany Short, says she’s particularly devastated over what 30-year-old Phillip Whitaker missed out on — the birth of their child.
“My baby will never meet Phillip, she won’t know him. I will have to tell her about her daddy, like, she don’t have a daddy, because they took that from us,” Short tells News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Short says her and Phillip’s daughter, Sa’nobia, was born early Monday morning. She says she’s still struggling to accept both the tragedy of death and the gift of life in barely more than 24 hours.
“It’s bittersweet, because on the one hand he’s gone and the person who hurt him just took something we can never get back. But at the same time, his daughter, I mean she is a blessing and she looks just like him. He’s still gonna live through her,” Short says.
As WRBL reported, Columbus officers responded to the Park Place Apartments off Wynnton Road around 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning. They found Whitaker shot to death in the passenger seat of a truck parked in the parking lot.
Police tell News 3 it was through witness testimony that they were able to deduce Whitaker was not shot in the truck. One neighbor in the apartment complex did not want to go on camera, but shared with WRBL what he says he told police.
He claims he saw the truck pull into the parking lot around 9 p.m. Saturday night. He says a man and woman got out and started wiping the truck off inside and outside. He then says the man took off towards 12th Street.
CPD could not confirm details of the investigation to News 3 during an interview Monday, but Major J.D. Hawk says officers are pursuing all leads and evidence to find those responsible. He also asks anyone with information to come forward.
“The reason you need to get involved is because, possibly, it could be you next time. So any information you can give us, we appreciate,” he says.
News 3 originally aired Whitaker’s death including a mugshot provided by the Columbus Police Department. CPD reports Whitaker was arrested at least five times and faced several drug related charges.
However, Short says she wants to make it clear “Phillip was more than just a convict.”
“He was a person just like everybody else, he was a father, and he wanted what was best for his family,” Short says. “Everybody’s situation is different and everybody don’t have all the resources to live, but he wanted to make sure his kids ate.”
She says what’s important now is finding answers to give her and Phillip’s children closure.
“I just want justice for Phillip, because it’s about these kids now. He left behind two kids, his eight-year-old and my newborn. What happened, like, that was not worth his life,”Short says.
She says she only has one thing to say to those responsible for Phillip’s death.
“You reap what you sow and it’s best you just turn yourself in.”
If you believe you have information related to Phillip Whitaker’s death, please call 911 or Sergeant Jeff Kraus at 706-225-4374. Sgt. Kraus can also be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.