About 8:30 Friday night, Lowndes County E-911 received a call concerning a disturbance at M&M Grocery, located at 4th St and 12 Ave South. The clerk at the store, Tobias Saddler, told officers that the fight started because Packet All-Star Leonard Cureton, 46, was outside the store, harassing customers. [Cureton has a history of panhandling and harassment. – JD] One of the customers, Steven Jennings, 41, walked away from Cureton and entered the store.
Minutes later, as Jennings tried to leave the store, Cureton blocked the door with a knife in his hand. The blade, a broken steak knife, was raised threateningly towards Jennings. The two men tied up, with Jennings trying to deflect the knife away from himself. Despite his best grappling, Jennings suffered three lacerations. Besides a moderately deep cut to his side, Cureton also scored a stab to either side of Jennings’ head, plus a severe bite to the right forearm.
Bystanders stopped the fight, separating the men and attempting to calm them down. Moments later, the fight re-ignited. In the second round, Jennings dominated the bout. Cureton took repeated shots to the face and was bleeding profusely by the time the fight was over. [Witnesses said Jennings went so far as to kick Cureton in the head once he was on the ground. This detail was unverified. – JD]
It was at this point that CPD Officers Kenneth Brewer and Joseph Strevel arrived on scene. Steven Jennings sat on the curb outside M&M Grocery, holding a white t-shirt to the wound on the right side of his head. Leonard Cureton lay a few feet away, not moving. [Everyone coming on scene thought that Cureton might be dead. – JD]
As more officers arrived on scene, the area was secured and a waiting ambulance was brought in to assist the fighters. Neither man could give his side of the story at the time. Jennings was too upset and Cureton only mumbled when questioned. Jennings was secured to a stretcher and loaded into the ambulance. A second ambulance was called to the store for Cureton, though it was a hassle to get him into it.
Cureton, while being questioned by officer and tended to by EMTs, kept trying to get up and leave the scene. He wore a red and black backpack and was adamant that no one take it off his back. Refusing to get on a stretcher, Cureton was eventually walked to the second ambulance and taken to BMH-GT. Both men were treated and released from the hospital.
Cureton was arrested Monday for the attack and was charged with Aggravated Assault with a Weapon and Disorderly Conduct. He could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
[Cureton has a long history with the CPD, having been arrested 71 times since 1998. If he gets a serious sentence following this arrest, the City of Columbus may finally get a reprieve from his constant troublemaking. – JD] 0