A 23-year-old man was fatally shot early Sunday morning in the Main Street parking lot between Columbia City Hall and the Richland County courthouse.
The dead man was discovered in a car by Columbia police after an officer stopped a vehicle about 3:15 a.m.
The victim was Aaron Bouknight of Columbia, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. An autopsy is slated for Monday.
Watts said the man got into a dispute at Club Dreams nightclub, 1734 Main St., and was shot in the parking lot across the street after leaving the club.
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Late Sunday afternoon, a plainclothes city police investigator and a uniformed Crime Scene Investigation unit officer walked the parking lot, looking for clues. The narrow lot runs from Main Street to Assembly Street.
Except to confirm they were at the scene where the man was believed to have been shot, the two officers declined comment. They referred a reporter to police spokesman Brick Lewis.
Lewis was unavailable.
Earlier, Lewis released a statement saying police determined the victim was shot while sitting in a Toyota Camry parked in the 1701 Main St. lot.
“The victim was discovered after a Columbia Police Officer spotted a Toyota Camry traveling south on Bull Street with its hazard lights flashing and driving at a high rate of speed,” Lewis wrote.
“After stopping the vehicle at Bull and Lady Streets, the Officer made contact with driver and was informed that his friend had just been shot. The victim was without any signs of life.”
At the time the car was stopped, it was not heading toward any of the city’s major hospitals — Baptist, Palmetto Health and Providence — according to the location police gave.
It was the third time in less than two months when a young man had been found shot to death in a car in the Columbia area.
In early February, Steven Duckett, 25, was found shot to death in an SUV in the drive-in lane of the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Taylor Street. Last week, Andrew Decker, 23, was found dead at the wheel of a parked car in the 2700 block of Brady Street. He had been shot once in the head.
Arrests have been made in both those cases.
“It’s getting to be a common occurrence,” said Watts. “It’s a bad situation.”