Monday afternoon, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Lowndes County Deputies were dispatched to William Roberts Apartments on William Roberts Rd., in reference to a disturbance. Lowndes E-911 received several calls concerning the fight, with some of the callers reporting that shots had been fired. One caller said the shooter was a black male who was standing near the dumpsters at the apartments.
When officers arrived on scene, there were few witnesses in the area. The individuals involved in the altercation left the scene before the deputies arrived.
Just before 3:00 p.m., an ambulance driver at the Baptists Memorial Hospital–Golden Triangle Emergency Room called into 911 dispatch. The driver told 911 that an injured person had just arrived at the emergency room ambulance dock in a personal vehicle. The man was said to have a gunshot wound to the head and claimed that he was shot on William Roberts Rd.
Columbus Police Officers rushed to the hospital to secure the scene until Lowndes Deputies could arrive to take over.
According to the remaining witnesses at the scene of the shooting, the man with the gun was Jerry Lee Darnell, 43, of 2050 Hwy. 373 in northern Lowndes County. He was said to be driving a maroon Mercury Mountaineer. Lowndes County deputies were familiar with Darnell and two deputies headed for his home in an attempt to intercept the suspect.
Darnell’s SUV was seen driving north on Hwy. 373 and deputies pulled the suspect over at King‘s Auto Sales.
Jerry Lee Darnell was transported to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. The Mountaineer was towed to the Metro Narcotics building for storage until it could be swept by Crime Scene Investigators.
After being questioned, Darnell was arrested and charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault with a Weapon.
The victim of the shooting, Bernard Harris remains under care at BMH-GT. When contacted, Harris commented, “All I can tell you is that I’m blessed.”
This is the second time in the last year that Harris has been the target of gunfire after an argument. On October 5, 2011, Harris was in an argument with James Douglas at the intersection of Main St. and 9th St. The argument between the men occured between their vehicles while they sat at the traffic light in the eastbound lanes. Harris pulled a gun and fired shots at Harris, but he missed, instead hitting a passing car. Harris was arrested in that incident and charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault. Douglas was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon.