Police charged a Columbia man Tuesday night with unlawful possession of a pistol following the fatal shooting of a man at the city’s Finlay Park, a department spokeswoman said.
Gene Autrey Morris Jr., 22, allegedly went to Finlay Park Saturday after receiving a call from one of two women who were reportedly being verbally harrassed by the victim, said Jennifer Timmons, spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department in a news release late Tuesday.
Laron L. Martin, 37, was identified by Richland County Coroner Gary Watts as the person shot in the torso Saturday night at the park. Martin died from his gunshot injury at Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital in the early morning hours of Sunday.
The shooting happened at approximately 10:15 p.m. Saturday in the upper area of the park.
Police believe after Morris received the call, he went went to Finlay Park after stopping at his home to pick up a pistol.
Morris did not have a “valid concealed weapon permit” when he arrived at Finlay Park armed with the pistol, the statement said.
Once at Finlay Park he is accused of getting into an argument with Martin before the shooting occurred and then fleeing the scene without calling the police to report the incident.
Morris was arrested late Tuesday afternoon after an extensive interview, Timmons said.
Investigators continue to interview witnesses to the Saturday night shooting.
The homicide appears to be the first killing in the park’s 27-year history.