Opry Mills Shooting Suspect Appears In Court

Posted: 9:05 AM, May 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-10 23:15:44Z

The man accused in the deadly shooting at Opry Mills appeared in court. Justin Golson has been charged with criminal homicide in the case. 

In court on Thursday, multiple witnesses appeared before the judge, explaining many different parts of the case.

Police said Golson admitted to shooting and killing Demarco Churchwell at the mall last Thursday. The two apparently had an ongoing dispute.

The first witness on Thursday was Detective Jeffery Job who had interviewed Golson. He said that during the interview, Golson stated he was a robbery victim a few months ago, and he added a cousin of Churchwell was there during the robbery.

That led Golson to believe Churchwell was in on it. Golson said he got into a fight with Churchwell's cousin, and a feud began between Golson and Churchwell.

According to the detective, Golson also said his life was being threatened by Churchwell on social media, mainly on Instagram and Snapchat.

On the day of the shooting, Golson told the detective he went to work at a shoe shining kiosk. He was then confronted by a friend of Churchwell, identified as Derrick Tucker. Churchwell was not there at that time.

They spoke, and when Tucker left, Golson told officials he also left the mall. He said he went to his apartment and got a handgun before returning to work.

Golson claimed he saw Tucker again, this time with other friends of Churchwell, along with Churchwell himself and Churchwell's girlfriend, Alexandria Lavender.

That's when a confrontation sparked between Golson and Churchwell, but Golson told the detective during the interview that he didn't want to fight.

Golson thought Tucker had a gun. It was believed Churchwell was not armed at the time.

The entire incident was captured on surveillance cameras, at least four videos total, which showed Golson backing away from Churchwell with his hands up.

Two shots were fired during the commotion, and Golson ran away from the scene.

Churchwell was shot in the neck, and he later died at the hospital.

Golson admitted to the shooting. He told the detective during the interview that Churchwell said, "I'm going to kill him," meaning Golson.

Lavender could be seen in the videos trying to help Churchwell after he was shot. When she walked out of the mall, she had a purse that had two stolen handguns inside. She claimed she didn't know they were there. The guns were loaded. She was taken into custody on multiple gun charges.

The detective told the court on Thursday that Golson said there are videos and messages on his phone, including texts, showing the threats and saying Churchwell will shoot Golson. He also claimed he received threats from a rap group that Churchwell was affiliated with.

Tucker, Churchwell's friend, was the next witness to take the stand. He said he came by himself to the mall first. He was told by Golson that he wanted to "squash the beef."

Tucker said he and Golson did not have any conflict between them, but he added he felt threatened by Golson during their conversation.

He said he called Churchwell and told him that.

The next witness was Deshaun Marion, a friend of Churchwell who was there at the time of the shooting.

Marion said the shooting "happened so fast." He witnessed Churchwell being shot, and also claimed he never saw Golson put his hands in the air prior to the shooting.

After the shooting, Marion said he tried to run after Golson, but he lost him. He did claim he believed Golson fired another shot outside the mall; however, he added he didn't see it. He just believed he heard it.

Trevon Hall, another friend of Churchwell, was the next to take the stand.

He was also present during the shooting. Hall said he saw Golson walking backwards and saw Churchwell walking toward Golson; however, he said he never saw Golson put his hands up.

Hall said Lavender was the only one beside Churchwell when he was shot. He also stated they were at the mall to buy shirts for a trip to Atlanta.

The last witness on Thursday was Janet Montgomery, a Bellevue resident.

Those in court said Montgomery was emotional on the stand. She was subpoenaed to appear because a handgun she owned was stolen out of her car seven weeks ago after she left it in there overnight.

That same gun matched the weapon used in the shooting.

In court, the defense claimed there was ill intent from Churchwell because of the guns in his girlfriend's purse.

They also said Golson showed signs of submission when he put his hands in the air and claimed he acted in self-defense because of the threats he had allegedly received.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Jenny Charles, requested a charge of second degree homicide.

Golson's case was bound over to the grand jury on the original charges after the judge found probable cause.

Lavender also had her case bound over to the grand jury on the gun charges.

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