In a press conference held Wednesday morning, Chief of Police Selvain McQueen announced that two arrests have been made in relation to recent crime sprees in Columbus-and that big changes are soon coming to the department.
In the three part meeting, Corporal Terry Dentry, head of Columbus Investigative Division, announced that they had arrested Antonio Montez Stevenson of Macon on five counts of armed robbery and one for simple assault.
Stevenson is allegedly responsible for the shooting on the corner of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue South on May 23rd where he assaulted and then shot Courtney Fletcher and Summer Stovall. Stevenson shot Fletcher in the eye with a BB gun before shooting Stovall in the back as she tried to run away. Fletcher later lost her eye.
Stevenson was also arrested for the robbery of a local car wash and a robbery that occurred last Saturday night in front of the Princess Theater as a couple sat in their car.
Dentry said CID also arrested Donnie Yulicous Harris for his involvement in the local copper thefts. Harris was charged with 3 counts of burglary of a business and two counts of grand larceny. Harris allegedly stole over 100,000 dollars worth of copper from Air Control Engineering.
According to Dentry, the arrests were made by observant citizens and their communication with the CPD. McQueen exclaimed “That’s how the big cases get solved. Through a tid bit of information that fits into the whole puzzle piece.” Assistant Chief Joe Johnson added “We depend on the citizens of Lowndes County. If you see something, say something.”
CPD Crime Lab’s Austin Shepard and Bill Smith were also in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting to discuss updates in the crime lab’s technology as well as a potential volunteer crime lab. According to Smith, the crime lab will offer a new technology known as AbP.ID in October. Procurred by a 15,000 dollar grant, the new system is the first of it’s kind to be used in Mississippi. Similar to DNA testing, this new form of technology will have the capability to test sweat and tears-something that standard DNA testing is not able to do. While the ground breaking testing has not yet been used in court, Shepard was confident that it would save the CPD time and money. He claims that AbP.ID is approximately one fourth the cost of DNA testing with a turn around time of hours as opposed to DNA testing’s weeks.
Shepard and Smith also explained that the CPD Forensic team will be organizing a volunteer crime scene unit. Based on a prototype out of Phoenix, AZ, Shepard explained that the group will be strictly volunteer based and will only handle nonviolent crimes or crimes committed against property. In order to be on the unit, volunteers will have to submit to a background check and drug test.
In closing of the meeting, Johnson announced that some in house personnel changes would be occurring in the department. Johnson states that three fourths of officers on patrol have experience of seven years or less. In order to ensure that the CPD isn’t top heavy, seven high ranking officers will be moving back to patrol.0