By The Columbus Packet
At approximately 1:40 a.m. Saturday, Lowndes County E-911 received several panicked phone calls regarding a possible shooting victim at 714 Pine St., just south of Bell Avenue near MLK Jr. Dr. Officers with the Columbus Police Department and medical responders were dispatched to the address with CPD Lt. James Grant, Cpl. Bill Smith and Investigator Tommy Watkins arriving on scene first.
When the officers arrived, they were pointed to where Willie “Hootie” Hood, Jr. was lying at the head of the driveway, near the front of his red Mercury. Hood’s girlfriend, Chiquita Nelson, laid on top of the victim, crying. Officers pulled the woman off of Hood, so that the arriving Columbus firefighters could tend to the man. After a few minutes, it was determined that Hood had succumbed to his injuries.
According to Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant, Hood, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head.
Chiquita Nelson and her daughter, Kiauna “Kiki” Davis, told the officers that Hood had been shot by Nelson’s son, Derrick, 19 (known to family and friends as “MeCat”). According to the statements made on scene, an argument over “MeCat’s” car had become heated, to the point where an enraged Hood began causing damage to his own car, breaking a window out of the Mercury.
According to the Columbus Police, Derrick Nelson then allegedly pulled a black handgun from his pocket and fired a shot in the air before pointing the gun at Hood and pulling the trigger at least once. Hood was struck in the head by a bullet and collapsed in the driveway. Nelson then reportedly tossed the handgun over a nearby fence into an empty lot on the north side of the home before getting into his car with a white female known only as “Amanda” and fleeing the scene.
When they arrived on scene, the CPD officers immediately issued a BOLO (Be On the LookOut) for Nelson’s white Dodge Charger. [There was some confusion about the colors of the Charger. The witnesses at the home (likely in shock from the incident) began describing the car’s previous paint job, telling officers that the Dodge was white with a green stripe and green writing on the side. Several white Chargers were found in Columbus and Lowndes County, but were dismissed because they had plain white paint. It was later clarified that the green accents had been removed from the car at an earlier date, leaving the car a plain white. – JD] Officers were told several locations where Nelson might have fled, but the shooter could not be located.
While processing the crime scene, Investigator George Harris recovered the firearm used in the shooting, a black .380 semi-automatic handgun, from the empty lot next door. Merchant discovered at least three .380 shell casings were discovered at the foot of the driveway, just behind the red Mercury.
The search for Derrick Nelson continued into the night, but to no avail. After a warrant was signed for his arrest Saturday afternoon, Nelson, with the aid of a friend, surrendered directly to Chief Selvain McQueen shortly before 8 p.m.. He was charged with murder and is still being held at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on a $1,000,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 1.
Hood’s father, Willie Hood, Sr., said that although the CPD caught the “right person” for shooting his son, he was less than pleased with the investigation.
“It was a botched investigation,” he said. “The (CPD) didn’t have any lights out there, just using little flashlights. Nobody talked to me, nobody asked me anything till the coroner said he was sorry for my loss. They didn’t check his keys, wallet — nothing. I was so frustrated with the investigators that I just walked away. The CPD needs new investigators, they just aren’t professional. There’s more to the story — the cops got it all wrong. They arrested the right guy, but the story is all wrong.”
Willie Hood’s criticism of the CPD Criminal Investigations Division comes on the heels of a shake-up within the department. Investigator Raymond Hackler was recently reassigned from CID to street patrol. Officer John Vandiver has been moved to the investigative division.
Willie Hood also the said the rumors that his son and Nelson were married were not true.
“He is not married,” Willie Hood said. “They are going out.”
He also disputed the couple was living in the house where his son was slain.
“They live in Nashville, they’ve been there two months,” Willie Hood said. “He works at Fiberweb in Nashville and she works for Nissan. (They) came down to see her other son graduate. They got in town Friday evening, even had a rental car. There were five folks in the yard when cops got there. The cops were walking all over everything. Not all five people from the house saw it, but (his) girlfriend did.I’m going to tell you the whole story, the real story, once I’m sure it won’t hurt the courts and hurt my (son’s case).”
Funeral services for Willie Hood, Jr. will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Church of Christ on Seventh Street North. A re-pass will be held immediately after at the Church of Christ on 10th Avenue North. Carter’s Funeral Services is in charge of the arrangements.