COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The man accused of killing a Tuttle mall shopper called police afterward to tell them he had fired shots in self-defense, audio obtained Monday by NBC4 showed.
Tyrone Gray Jr., 24, is charged with shooting Dontarious Sylvester, 25, after an argument at the Mall at Tuttle Crossing. Sylvester was pronounced dead at the scene. After the shooting, Gray called 911 to tell his side of what happened.
“Uh, a man assaulted me with his purse, and I shot,” Gray said.
“Okay, did you hit anybody?” the dispatcher asked.
“Uh, I shot him,” Gray replied.
In the phone call lasting over eight minutes, Gray identified himself and told the dispatcher what he was wearing. He said the shooting happened inside the Sole Stop shoe store on the second floor of the mall. Columbus police confirmed it took place there around 2:41 p.m. Sunday. According to CPD Sgt. Joe Albert, Gray fired several shots into the shoe store. Sole Stop announced Monday that the store would be closed until June 20, and shared condolences for Sylvester.
“No family should ever have to go through the loss of their son, brother, cousin … at such a young age,” a store employee wrote on social media. “We are giving time for our staff who witnessed everything to step back, regroup and do what they need to do to cope … the situation was an isolated event between two individuals. It was not sneaker-related and it was in regards to something outside of the store.”
After he told the dispatcher about the shooting, Gray said he put the gun in his pocket and was going back to his car in the parking lot. The dispatcher told him to stay in the store while Gray persisted about leaving. When the dispatcher asked where he was again, Gray admitted he had moved to the J.C. Penney store. The dispatcher later asked Gray what happened to Sylvester.
“I don’t know, he was laying on the ground,” Gray said. “He just threw a purse at me, hit me in my face.”
When the dispatcher asked in the phone call if Gray saw any weapons on Sylvester, Gray said he didn’t see any. Then, the dispatcher asked again where Gray was at, and he admitted he had gone to lay in the back of his car. Gray’s girlfriend jumped on the phone call and told the dispatcher they were in the J.C. Penney parking lot before Gray took the phone again.
The dispatcher advised Gray to keep his hands out of his pockets and to step away from the gun used in the shooting. Gray told them he put the gun on the back of his trunk, and the dispatcher told him to step away from the trunk.
The majority of the audio became indecipherable through this portion of the call, but the phone picked up police sirens and the dispatcher told Gray that an officer was in the J.C. Penney parking lot. The Columbus Division of Police confirmed officers arrested Gray in the mall’s parking lot.
Gray and his girlfriend can be heard shouting as officers approach.
“The gun is over there,” Gray said repeatedly.
Gray appeared in court for his arraignment Monday morning, where a judge issued him a $50,000 cash surety bond and ordered him to stay away from the victim’s family. Court documents from the Franklin County Municipal Court revealed that Gray and Sylvester were in a verbal altercation in the store before the shooting, per video recovered by police.