COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus police have released photos of three suspects accused of killing a man and injuring a woman during a robbery over the weekend.
At about 10:10 p.m., Saturday, officers went to the 2000 block of Argyle Drive on a ShotSpotter alert. When they arrived at the scene, they found Neal Smith, 24, and a 34-year-old woman suffering from gunshot wounds.
Smith was taken to OSU East Hospital where he later died. The woman was in stable condition when taken to an area hospital.
According to police, video showed before the shooting, Smith was making a purchase at a nearby market with three men closely watching him. After leaving the market, the three men followed Smith before two of them confronted Smith near Argyle Drive and Woodland Avenue.
Witnesses told police Smith yelled “Just take it!” before there was gunfire, and the two men ran back to the vehicle and drove away.
“He was there to do something very mundane and these guys decided to gun him down for whatever cash he had on him,” said Columbus Police Det. Terry Kelley.
Police said it appeared the suspects decided to rob Smith since they knew he had cash on him after watching him in the store.
“He was waiting in line and three other individuals pulled into the market,” Kelley said. “They walked in. They saw the fact that Neil had cash in his pocket or in his hand and they followed him from the market out into the parking lot.”
The woman who was injured in the shooting was an unintended victim, according to the police, and just happened to be in the area when she was struck by gunfire during the robbery.
As the suspects fled the scene, Smith also ran, fatally wounded, collapsing near the wounded woman.
“Neil told that person when he landed on the ground close to them that he was sorry,” Kelley said. “He apologized to that person and for somebody to make their last though… because he knew he had been struck. He knew that he probably wasn’t going to come out of this. And for his last thought, to apologize to that person that was struck, that stands out to me. Kinda tells me how good of a person he actually was.”
Several photos of the suspects, including multiple that feature distinctive tattoos on one of the suspects, were released by Columbus police on Monday. The vehicle used during the robbery appears to be a Chevrolet Malibu with damage to the passenger rear side, according to police.
Police ask anyone with information on this shooting to call Columbus Homicide Detective Kelley at 614-645-0907 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.