One biker gang’s wresting an adorned vest from the president of another motorcycle club triggered the Columbus bar brawl and 2015 shootout that killed one man and wounded three others, a prosecutor told jurors in the murder trial of three men accused of gang violence.
Assistant District Attorney Ray Daniel said the Strikers club was holding a meet and greet Oct. 9, 2015, at the 4th Quarter Sports Bar, 6969 Macon Road, when around 11:20 p.m. a group affiliated with the Outcast Motorcycle Club arrived, led by defendant Daginald Wheeler.
Their aim was to teach the Strikers to seek the Outcast gang’s approval before hosting such events, Daniel said.
He said surveillance video from the bar showed Wheeler conferring with his black-clad followers before they split up, with some of the armed bikers going to the rear of the bar while others went in the door.
“They walk together just like a commando group,” Daniel said, calling Wheeler a gang leader known as “Headquarters.”
Inside the bar, the Strikers club president had just finished line dancing when the Outcasts jumped him, dragging him to the floor and snatching off his club vest, Daniel said. That provoked the Strikers, who started fighting back.
Among those in the bar was Dominic Mitchell, whom the Strikers had asked to cook for them. Mitchell joined in defending the Strikers’ president, Daniel said.
Then the shooting started.
Among those with Wheeler were Demark Ponder and James Daniels Jr., both “probates” or pledges to the Outcast gang, the prosecutor said. Ponder fatally shot Mitchell before everyone scattered, running outside to the parking lot, Daniel said.
Outside a man named Ed Bush, armed with an AR-15 rifle, aimed at Wheeler, but instead fired to the side, Daniel said. A barrage of gunfire followed, with police later estimating about 75 shots were fired, hitting people, cars and buildings.
Ponder was hit in the leg as he and Daniels fled, so they rode to St. Francis Hospital.
Also wounded in the shootout was Bush, and his friends took him to St. Francis, too. There they noticed the two motorcycles they had seen at the bar.
When police arrived to question witnesses, Ponder lied, telling officers he was wounded while riding north on Interstate 185. Ponder himself acknowledged this earlier on the witness stand as he sought immunity from prosecution, claiming he acted in self-defense, shooting Mitchell after Mitchell pointed a gun at him.
Mitchell died from two gunshot wounds to the chest.
That night Ponder’s jacket had the letter “P” on the back, marking him as a probationary Outcast, charged to do whatever gang leaders told him and otherwise instructed not to speak to his superiors, Daniel said.
Essentially Ponder was only “a tool” of the club, the prosecutor said, adding, “Dominic Mitchell was killed by a tool.”
Some witnesses were too frightened to tell authorities what happened, he said: “But some people courageously came forward.”
He said the evidence police gathered included the gun used to kill Mitchell, matched to the slaying by a ballistics test. Ponder had bought the weapon days earlier and still had the receipt in his pocket, Daniel said.
Investigators later searched Wheeler’s property and found a “treasure trove” of evidence tying him to the gang, the assistant district attorney said.
Each defendant is charged with murder, robbery, aggravated assault, using a gun to commit a crime and three counts of violating the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. Wheeler faces an additional count of violating the gang prevention act, and Ponder is charged also with lying to police about his gunshot wound.
Their trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday in Judge Bobby Peters’ Government Center courtroom.