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UPDATED: Six arrested in shooting death; neighborhood worried

Monday, February 16, 2009 | 11:15 p.m. CST; updated 9:02 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The shooting victim was found in the parking lot behind Ballenger Liquor and C-Store, 2201 Ballenger Lane, early Monday morning.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department arrested six males, including two minors, Monday night in connection with the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Ronald Cornell Brown that occurred early Monday morning, according to a department news release.

One 16-year-old male was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. The other 16-year-old was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and possession of a controlled substance. Their names were not released.

Ashtin Levi Weger, 19; Nicholas James Weavers, 21; Michael Leshawn McHenry, 17; and Andre Joshia Lee, 21, were all charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

According to the release, investigators say Brown, Weger and Lee arranged to meet a 16-year-old male to purchase a large amount of marijuana at Ballenger Liquor — where Brown was later found shot. The building used to be a Casey's General Store, which was the site of the 1994 triple homicide that is considered the most brutal crime in Columbia's history.

Police say Weaver, McHenry and the two juveniles planned to meet with Weger and steal the money he had brought to purchase the marijuana. The four suspects had no marijuana or any substitute with them at the time, and all were aware of the plan to rob Weger, according to the release.

After Brown, Weger and Lee arrived at the liquor store parking lot, a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee pulled up and one of the 16-year-old males got out, according to the release. He then began firing a handgun at Brown, Weger and Lee, allegedly striking Brown in the lower abdomen. The three men then reportedly returned fire, striking the Jeep.

Monticelli said a vehicle of the same description was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Clark Lane; the vehicle was impounded by police. He confirmed the vehicle was connected to the shooting. There was evidence of bullet holes in the vehicle, which is owned by one of the juvenile suspects, according to the police news release.

At about 12:40 a.m. Monday, police found Brown with a gunshot wound to the upper leg in the side parking lot of the store after they had received multiple reports from neighbors of shots fired, Columbia Police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said. Brown was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Jackie Jennings, who has lived in the neighborhood for 19 years, said life in the northeast Columbia neighborhood had been fairly uneventful since the Casey’s murders in 1994.

He said the fatal shooting of Brown early Monday was upsetting.

“This was too close to home for me,” Jennings said.

“I woke up to several shots in the night that sounded like someone knocking on my door,” Jennings said. “By the time I walked outside, I only heard one more. I saw a dark green Jeep Cherokee creeping up and down the streets, and I normally don’t get scared, but that vehicle disturbed me.”

Jennings also said the vehicle paused in front of the scene for a minute before slowly driving around the block again. “I just hid behind the pole at my house while it drove by, then I went inside,” he said.

Evidence found at the scene includes two different caliber casings, which means two different weapons were involved, Monticelli said. Officers have recovered one of the weapons used, the release said.

Shontez Truss, who said he was a childhood friend of Brown, was surprised to find out Brown was dead and said he was “a cool guy” and had always stayed out of trouble as far as he knew.

“He called me earlier around 10:30 p.m. and asked if I could give him a ride to the store later," Truss said, referring to Ballenger Liquor. "I couldn’t take him, but I really don’t know why he would need to go up there that late.” 

Orlando Collier, who said he was a good friend of Brown, said he walked by the scene around 2 a.m. and was shocked to learn of Brown's death.

“This is close to me not only because I knew him so well, but also because it is right near my house. Corey (Brown) was a fun-loving, outgoing guy, and he will be missed," Collier said.

Mitzi Enlow, Collier’s mother and a frequent visitor to the area, teared up upon hearing the news. “I pray constantly for the children. The things we deal with as parents, especially in the times we live in today, it keeps me in constant prayer,” she said.

Paula Schneider, a member of the Neighborhood Watch Association on McKee Street near the scene of the shooting, said there are always a lot of cars driving in and out of the neighborhood at night. "(The shooting) is sad, but I’m not surprised,” she said.

Schneider said crime seemed to be on the rise near where she lives. An analysis of data on the Missourian's Crime Watch Web site shows that the neighborhood, located in police beat 25, has had a consistent problem with property crimes since 2005, though there has been no significant trend in violent crimes.

“There are drug deals that go on at the park and houses broken into all the time. The police used to patrol this neighborhood regularly but have not been around recently,” Schneider said.

Monticelli said patrols had not stopped.

“They might not see officers as frequently as they would like to because they may be addressing other calls,” Monticelli said.

Monday night, the juveniles charged in the incident were released to the custody of the Boone County Juvenile Office. Weger, Weavers, McHenry and Lee were released to the custody of Boone County Correctional Office pending bonds.

Missourian reporter Megan Wiegand contributed to this report.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro February 17, 2009 | 12:40 a.m.

What would any teenager do with large amounts of marijuana?
It's kids like these that give teenagers a bad name.
Guns don't kill our youngsters. Jealousy, greed and stupidity are the culprits.
Live a clean, sober, lawful life and you just might live to see your 30th, birthday!
R.I.P. Ronald. You weren't the first and you won't be the last to fall for the drug, money and power lies.

(Report Comment)
Jarrod Turner February 17, 2009 | 7:43 a.m.

It's not the drug that caused the problem. It's the jealousy, greed and ignorance brought out by the culture the people who are committing the crimes are a part of. Ya know it seems simple enough. Take away the laws of supply and demand and the lucriosity of drug dealing goes away. There's no more money to be made when the drug is legal and everyone can buy it for the price of a pack of cigarettes. Are people still gonna kill each other over $5? Legalize and a lot of the crime will go away

(Report Comment)
Tiesha Cropp February 17, 2009 | 11:14 a.m.

Wow. I actually know one of the guys that was involved in this and it's not because HE is ignorant it is because he got caught up in what his ignorant FRIENDS were doing.

(Report Comment)
Clifford Thornton February 19, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.

When one really understands the war on drugs one understands that the drug war has absolutely nothing to do with drugs. What it is about is power, control, coercion, its about money, plain and simple.

This article demonstrates this malady perfectly. We have to lick our wounds and bring these drugs inside of the law.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 19, 2009 | 3:24 p.m.

Ya repeal all of the drug laws and let everybody get higher than a kite whenever they want to and how ever they want to then we can have more people not only drinking and driving but drugging and driving too.

Ya great idea and I suppose you must know where exactly all of the money that will be needed to clean up after the messes they will leave and lives they will ruin will come from too because some poor S.O.B. is going to have to clean up behind them you know?

You know where? Right out of the pockets of every single tax paying citizen.

Ya great idea...........NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTT!!!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 19, 2009 | 3:33 p.m.

Thank you Chuck for posting the same thing in about the third different thread. Now how about some solutions?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 19, 2009 | 6:27 p.m.

John Schultz how about we start out in our schools with good old fashioned education.

Just for shiznitz and giggles to start.

Would that be a good starting point or do we need it to actually start in the home with mom and dad from a very young age.

(Report Comment)
brittney gundo April 23, 2009 | 2:07 p.m.

hello i am coreys girlfriend i am the mother to his child.........all of u guys are stupid to sit here and speak on a deads mans name! he was who he was and he is not the only person involved with drugs or watever u guys r arguing about. and its not the communities fault or the schools fault it is noones fault. people are going to do wat they have to do to survive in this world where we cant get a llegal job or meet everyones criteria they have set for "the younger generation" corey did try hard to get a job but noone would hire him and he did have a son to support at the end of the day. and with no job how was he gunna get money? he did everything he could to help me and my son live as best as we could. and i find it strange everyone wants to say he was so wrong for being who he was now but everyone on this page that said they knew him shoulda said sumthn then instead of now. so all im asking is u guys stop filling your empty lives with this subject of corey. my son isnt even 2 yrs old yet and when he can read i dnt want him to see all the negatives things that u guys have to say about his daddy......everyone makes mistakes and most of us learn from then. so i end this with saying everyone should learn from this expierience and if they dont its noones fault but their own. i know my son will learn from this and so will his dads best friend ashtin and his cousins andre and michael who are sitting in jail right now for the consequences of their own actions......jus plz grow up ppl and realize just because u didnt know corey doesnt mean u can sit here and talk smack on how he lived his life and the person he was ....im sure everyone who commented has f#$%ed up some way before so dont sit here and try and sound perfect and make corey seem to be the bad guy....

(Report Comment)
Jarrod Turner May 11, 2009 | 12:20 p.m.

We're not ripping on Corey. I happen to know one of his friends pretty well and all I'm saying is he got f***** by the system. It's not fair and it's not right what happened to him but do you really honestly think that if the guys that shot him could have walked into a gas station and bought a pack of joints for $5 that would have killed him for the money? No. they wouldn't have because there wouldn't have been any money to kill him over. It's very sad and it's bull that he lost his life because of some stupid repressed social/relgious context that governs how we all live.

Get rid of the stupid laws and you'll stop other people from losing their lives and I understand he had a family to feed I know I just got a job after 3 1/2 years of searching..it's tough out there and if he had to move dro to pay for his kids than there ain't anything wrong with that

(Report Comment)

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