*This article has been changed to accurately describe wounds to a man who assisted the female victim, to correct the hometowns of those involved, and clarify that the Columbia Police Department primarily viewed the incident as a homicide investigation.
COLUMBIA – A 21-year-old man was shot and killed in an eastern Columbia apartment on Monday morning.
The shooting occurred in Apartment 12 of 219 Anita Court, a small cul-de-sac extending north from East Walnut Street near Stephens Lake Park. The 22-year-old female resident of the apartment also suffered a gunshot wound to the lower leg during the episode.
Police identified the deceased as Crestful J. Williams. He had two wounds on his lower abdomen, two in his back and one at the base of the neck, according to a police news release late Monday night.
Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Haden said the victim had a Columbia address. She said in an earlier news release that he is the former boyfriend of the woman who lives in the apartment. He instigated the incident, she said Monday afternoon.
“The (victim) went in brandishing a gun. From the information investigators got at the scene, he was shot in self-defense,” Haden said.
She added, however, that police remain unsure of exactly what happened or why. Police found three handguns in the apartment, but they are unclear whether more than one gun was fired during the incident or how the female victim was shot. They have determined that one of the three guns was not fired.
“The first officers arrived three minutes after the first 911 call,” Haden said. “You would think when you arrive at a situation like this, you would have more to work with, but that’s not the case.”
“It was a strange situation pertaining to the boyfriend she was currently seeing,” said Ralph Jones of St. Louis, who arrived at the scene Monday afternoon and said he is Williams' cousin.
Both Haden and Jones said the confrontation was over the woman who lived in the apartment.
Haden said the woman’s current boyfriend, who was in the apartment when the victim arrived with a gun, "implicated himself in the shooting.”
He was cooperative when police arrived. Police expect to arrest the suspect, according to a news release.
Police believe the victim was dropped off at the apartment by his current girlfriend, who was not present during the shooting.
Haden said that when police arrived, another man was in the apartment with injuries. She said that man, whom police have interviewed, heard gunshots and went to the female victim’s apartment to help. There, he was confronted and assaulted by another man trying to get in. He was taken to a hospital for medical attention.
Haden said the man who allegedly committed the assault had a “vested interest in the girl.” It was unclear whether police had arrested him.
A woman who identified herself as the fiancee of the assault victim said he was a neighbor who ran across the street to help. She said he put a tourniquet on the female victim’s leg then ran into the apartment to find out what was going on. He was assaulted soon afterward.
As the investigation unfolded, police blocked the area surrounding the ground-level apartment on the north end of the building with crime tape. About five police cars and a forensics van had converged on the building by 2 p.m.
Dozens of people, including family members and neighbors, gathered around the scene and lingered for hours after the shooting. Some screamed, others wept. Police officers stood by, primarily guarding the perimeter of the investigation scene.