11/16/17 5:00 p.m. — We now know the victim in Thursday morning’s deadly shooting was also the key witness in another murder from November 2014.
Former Assistant District Attorney Pete Temesgen says 30-year-old Steve Phillips was the sole witness in the execution-style killing of Chad Herring. Herring was shot in the back of the head while riding in a car with Phillips and Kevin Babe “Cali” Henderson.
Phillips testified he was driving the car when Henderson shot Herring in the back of the head for no apparent reason.
Temesgen tells News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton that Phillips knew testifying would put him at risk. However, Phillips and Herring were close friends and Phillips didn’t want Herring to die without justice.
“It weighs heavily on my heart,” Temesgen says during a phone conversation. “I grew close to the Phillips family during the trial and I’m sure this is just a devastating loss for them. I was also very shocked to hear of it.”
Temesgen says it seems too early to tell if Phillips was targeted just five months after his June testimony and Henderson’s sentencing — a feeling mirrored by Columbus police who tell News 3 they are exploring all avenues in the murder investigation.
Phillip’s death marks Columbus’ 30th murder, but the city’s 37th homicide.
Homicide numbers are determined by the coroner’s office to signify a death by the hands of another person. However, police classify the city’s murder totals to include killings with malicious intent, not to include cases of self-defense.
11/16/17 11:30 a.m. — Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan has released the identity of the man shot Thursday morning on Winston Road.
Bryan identified the victim as 30-year-old Steve Phillips. He also says the 37th homicide of the year marks a gruesome milestone in his career.
“I don’t know that we’ve seen it this bad. I’ve been in the office five years, and this is the most we’ve had since I’ve been elected coroner,” Bryan says.
He adds recent trends in violent crimes lead him to believe there’s been an increase in retaliation attacks.
“We know why this is happening,” Bryan says. “Drug related, gang related, type deals. Most of them seem to be execution style, the last five or six, kinda getting rid of witnesses and things of that nature from what I’ve been hearing from detectives.
“I think it’s a shame that it’s happening. I don’t see any feasible way to stop it to be honest with you.”
The Columbus Police Department has not verified a motive or suspects in Phillips’ death at this time.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan tells News 3 a man is dead after a shooting Thursday morning.
The incident happened in the 900 block of Winston Road. The body was found in an abandoned lot.
The coroner pronounced the victim dead at 9:35 a.m.
The coroner also says this is the 37th homicide for 2017.This is a developing story. Stay with News 3 for updates.