COLUMBIA —Columbia police were asking witnesses to Tuesday's shooting at Douglass Park to help in the investigation.
A suspect was named Tuesday night in the shooting. Police said roughly 50 people were in the park at the time of the incident, and "several" had made statements. In a release this morning, police asked that "anyone who witnessed the incident to please contact the Major Crimes Unit or Crimestoppers." The Crimestoppers number is 573-875-TIPS (8477).
An arrest warrant has been obtained for Grady F. Dortch Jr., 28, on suspicion of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, according to a Columbia Police Department news release.
Police said Dortch is considered armed and dangerous. He is being sought in connection with the shooting death of Miles Heard, 29, of Columbia. Heard was fatally shot Tuesday in Douglass Park.
The victim, identified by his fiancee's sister, Veronica Washington, died shortly after the shooting at University Hospital. A police department news release later identified the victim as Miles Q. Heard. Upon hearing of Heard's death, Washington collapsed screaming to the pavement on Rogers Street. Heard had two children, Washington said.
Police say that Heard and Dortch were acquaintances and that the shooting was not random. Police were trying to determine a motive for the shooting.
Washington said Heard had moved to Columbia from Chicago. He had worked for a little over a year at Derby Ridge Elementary School as a custodian until about a year ago, the school's principal, Tina Windett said.
"He was a good man," Washington said. "He worked, and everybody loved him."
Heard's death is the fifth homicide in Columbia in 2008, according to Columbia Police Department statistics.
Witnesses told police three or four men in a light blue older-model car, possibly a Toyota, drove up to the park around 12:50 p.m. Police think the men then got out of the car and shot Heard in the chest, Capt. Brad Nelson said at a news conference at the park. They then fled in the car westbound on Worley Street.
Capt. Brad Nelson said Heard was shot in the chest with a small-caliber handgun at fairly close range, "a matter of feet." They found Heard lying in the parking lot when they arrived.
A large number of people were in the park at the time, but police said the crowd had nothing to do with the shooting. No disturbance or fight was reported before the shooting. But Washington said that Heard, and the man she believes shot him, had an argument Friday night, though she did not know what they'd argued about.
Poll workers said voting was not disrupted at St. Luke Methodist Church, about a block away from the park on Ash Street.
The story has been modified to reflect the correct spelling of the victim's last name.