Three arrests made in fatal Columbia County burglary

Columbia County authorities have arrested three suspected accomplices of Justin Anthony Stephens, who was shot and killed while attempting to burglarize an apartment.

 

Edward Albert Brown III, 19, Jose Lopez-Gamero, 21, and Leonard Jamal Walton, 18, were arrested Saturday and are being held at Columbia County jail without bond.

Investigators said around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Stephens and Walton, both dressed in black and wearing bandanas over their faces, knocked on a Petersburg Square apartment door and forced their way inside.

The police report said the men attacked Bruce Randell Barrett, 42, when he answered the door. His 15-year-old son ran into Barrett’s bedroom and retrieved a rifle and fired twice at the intruders.

Stephens was struck both times and was pronounced dead at the scene. He died from a gunshot to his back, said Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins.

Capt. Steve Morris said Brown was waiting outside and Lopez-Gamero was in a car on the street.

All three men are being charged with burglary. Brown and Walton are also charged with simple battery and Brown has an added charge of criminal attempt to commit a felony, according to the jail’s Web site.

Barrett’s son will not be charged as his actions are considered “justifiable homicide,” said Morris.

 

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