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Murder at The Lux

Al Lathan

The body of a Columbus man was discovered at the Luxapalila Park early Saturday morning.
Fishermen found the body of 34-year-old Alfonso Lathan, Jr shortly after 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning at the bottom of a boat ramp just above the water’s edge. Lathan had apparently been shot once in the shoulder and once in the head.
The E-911 call of a “possible 10-7″ or “dead body” came in at 10:15 a.m. Columbus Police Department Officer Kevin Moore was the first to respond on scene and found a shirtless Lathan approximately 50 feet from the sandy boat ramp, lying face up on a steep incline in the brush. The body was not visible from the shore. Moore confirmed that Lathan was indeed deceased and quickly secured the scene, taping off the ramp with police tape. Within minutes the popular park was swarming with CPD officers, first responders and members of the media.
Fishermen who had hoped to get an early start that morning were milling about in the parking lot when bystander Sherman Vaughan noticed a pair of discarded house slippers by the bath house.
Vaughan brought them to Moore’s attention and upon closer inspection the officer discovered a pool of blood mere inches away from the footwear. Moore immediately alerted his supervisor, Sergeant Rick Jones, and the two secured the parking lot as part of the crime scene.
Vaughan, who lives down the road from the park, told police that he normally takes an early morning walk down to the river but did not that morning. “I just didn’t go today. Thank God I didn’t.” To that an unidentified bystander quipped: “Yeah, it could have been you.” Vaughan replied to that man, “Naw, that wouldn’t have been me. I carry a Glock on me at all times. You have to down here.”
Interim Chief Selvain McQueen arrived on scene just after 10:40 a.m. with Assistant Chief Joe Johnson arriving minutes later. Following the blood trail, McQueen led investigators to the bath house where they noted the shoes and several splats of blood on the pavement.
Crime Scene Investigator Austin Shepard arrived soon after McQueen and Johnson and proceeded to process the extensive scene, placing markers by the nearly two dozen drops of blood leading from the bath house down to the river. Located at the far north corner of the parking lot and nearly 100 yards from the water’s edge where the body was discovered, the bath house is a common stopping point for fisherman leaving the river.
The blood trail began at the wood framed building and criss-crossed across the parking lot. Noting the pattern, McQueen mused that it was as if Lathan was running erratically to get away from the shooter. According to the chief, “He ran from the bathrooms to the right side of the parking lot then across to the left and then back to the right in a zig-zag pattern before running down the hill. Somebody was chasing him.”
Amanda Burell, the lead investigator on the case, spent the morning and the better part of the afternoon processing the scene. Burell and Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant stood on the bank for over an hour noting the position of the body and bullet entry and exit wounds. Merchant removed the body from the scene just after 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

As of press time, no suspects have been arrested, but McQueen says the police department is “actively pursuing all leads and shaking the bushes.” McQueen did not release the caliber of weapon used in the incident.
Columbus Police visited Lathan’s Winterset Drive home in East Columbus after his body was identified. Several neighbors told The Packet that they saw broken glass in the driveway and that investigators gathered evidence from inside the home including a bullet. Another neighbor added that Lathan was likely “shot once at home and then brought to the Lux to be finished off.”
Lathan, or “Lil Al” as he was known to family and friends has had several run ins with the law, including a drug related arrest but his family remembers him as a man who “loved life and loved his family dearly.” His sister Kim Kendrich says “Al loved life and Al had a relationship with Christ. The family is hurt but we are celebrating the homecoming of Al on Saturday. God makes no mistakes and if God hadn’t said so, Al would still be here. All praises be to God.”
Alfonso Lathan, Jr. was the son of Reverend and Mrs. Al and Diane Lathan of Columbus. Visitation will be at Lee-Sykes Funeral Home from 12:00 pm until 7:00 pm with family visitation from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm. Funeral services will be held Saturday morning at 11:00 am at Cook Elementary in Columbus.
Lathan’s murder was the first of two in a violent weekend in Columbus. Tedd Wood was gunned down near the 300 block of 8th Street North, just behind the Columbus Public Library and across from Sandpiper Apartments. McQueen does not believe the two shootings are related.

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