Formal charges have been filed against a Pine Bluff man who allegedly killed one person and shot three others in mid-December.
Late Tuesday, Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter charged Courtney Lewis, 26, with 15 separate crimes, including one count of capital murder stemming from the shooting death of Kenneth Davis, 46, who was pronounced dead at Jefferson Regional Medical Center at 8:10 p.m. Dec. 16. The cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound to the head.
Lewis was charged with three counts of first-degree battery after he reportedly shot Jeffrey Smith, 28, Latonya Curry, 31, and Rhonda Robinson, 20, before approaching Davis who was beside his vehicle on the parking lot of the E-Z Mart on University Drive.
Other charges included three felony counts of aggravated assault, two felony counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of terroristic threatening, a Class Y felony, one count of terroristic threatening, a Class B felony, one felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one felony count of theft of property, one misdemeanor count of theft of property, one misdemeanor count of third-degree escape, and one felony count of theft by force.
Lt. Bob Rawlinson said police believe Lewis was on drugs, probably a combination of cocaine and PCP that users commonly smoke. The drug combination is called “wet” on the streets.
During a probable cause hearing for Lewis on Dec. 19, Detective Brad Vilches reported that the incident began when Lewis, who was driving a stolen car and accompanied by Smith was traveling down the expressway when he saw a person they both knew driving another vehicle and Lewis allegedly told Smith he was “going to hit a lick” (rob the other person, later identified as Kentrell Hunt, 21.)
Lewis reportedly got out of his vehicle and when he did, Smith tried to drive away but Lewis returned and shot Smith in the arm, then got back into the vehicle and drove a short distance before wrecking it.
Before shooting Smith, Lewis fired a shot at Hunt’s vehicle but missed, and after shooting Smith, drove to the E-Z Mart where he got out of the vehicle while it was still running and the vehicle rolled into the building.
Lewis then tried to carjack a vehicle containing Curry and Robinson, and four children, ages 13, 9, 6 and 4, then firing shots at the car, hitting both women, one in the leg, the other in the arm.
Police said Lewis then confronted Davis, who had paid for his gas and was standing beside his vehicle, and after shooting Davis, got into Davis’ vehicle and turned north onto University Drive where he hit a light pole.
During the court hearing, Vilches said Officer James Huff saw the vehicle and turned on his blue lights when Lewis allegedly pointed the gun at Huff, but did not fire any shots, and when Detective James Dixon saw Lewis pointing the gun at Huff, he began firing shots at Lewis, who fled into the ravine on the north side of the ambulance service.
Officer Jeremy Oswalt went into the ravine to try and arrest Lewis, followed by sheriff’s Sgt. Andy Hoots, and Lewis reportedly had a “black object” in his hand when the officers first saw him, then nothing.
After Lewis refused several commands to halt and show his hands, Hoots deployed his Tazer at Lewis, with the prongs hitting Lewis in the back, and Lewis went under water, Vilches said at the court hearing.
When Oswalt and Hoots tried to pick up Lewis, he grabbed Oswalt and pulled him under water, then Pulled Hoots under while Oswalt was hitting Lewis in the head and trying to subdue him. Several other officers arrived and they were finally able to subdue Lewis and get handcuffs and leg irons on him.
Because he had been hit with a Tazer, Lewis was taken to the hospital and while there, escaped from custody for 30 to 45 minutes, prompting an all out search. Lewis was found hiding in a storage closet at the hospital, then taken to jail.
Vilches said in addition to the car Lewis was driving when the incident began, the gun believed used in all the shootings was reported stolen. That gun was recovered from the ditch later the night of the incident.
Lewis is being held at the detention center without bond, and if convicted of capital murder, would be sentenced to death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The case was assigned to First Division Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones.