Police are still looking for whoever shot and killed an Augusta teen working at a crowded birthday party on March 19.
James Sterling Gillette Jr., 19, was shot outside the Belair Conference Center on Jimmy Dyess Parkway during the 16th birthday party for a grandchild of the late music superstar James Brown.
“We work on this case every day, following every available lead,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Fights drove the more than 200 guests outside, where shots were fired. Gillette, an employee of the center, was shot as he corralled guests back into the building.
On March 28, police arrested an Augusta teen – Deandre Tyrell Jones, 19, of Willow Creek Road – for lying to police. He’s being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.
“Many people who were at the party left before deputies arrived on the scene,” Morris said. “Many witness are reluctant to tell them the truth. We want them to step up and do the right thing and tell us what they saw that night.”
According to witnesses, more than one shooter was seen leaving the area in two vehicles -- a blue or dark-gray minivan with two rear “doughnut” spare tires and a silver Toyota or Chevrolet Impala, also with a rear spare tire and a white trash bag over a broken passenger window.
“We have a pretty good handle on who is involved, but for one reason or another, witnesses are reluctant to tell us what they know and what they saw,” Morris said.
Initially, police had a partial identification on one of the gunmen, a man known as “DQ,” but no arrests have been made.
Police are looking for 23-year-old Omar Shariff Grissett, who has an active warrant for a probation violation, as a “person of interest” in the case.
“He’s been eluding the authorities for several weeks now,” Morris said.
Police also are looking for the owner of a gold cross pendant, which was found at the scene.
“It may belong to someone who knows something,” Morris said.
Anyone with information about the shooting, the whereabouts of Grissett, or the identity of the pendant’s owner is asked to call the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 541-2800.
Morris said the sheriff’s office is offering a reward for information about the case. Augusta Crime Stoppers, an local independent organization that works with law enforcement, also is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.
Information can be provided to Augusta Crime Stoppers anonymously, said Griff Griffin, an organization board member.
“They don’t even have to give us their name,” Griffin said.
Information can be provided on the Web site www.augustacrimestoppers.org, and by calling or texting (803) 441-8744.
Morris said Gillette’s death is added to three other unsolved murders in the county.Those cases are:
Wanda Huggins, 27, of Newborn, Ga., was discovered about a quarter mile south of Pollard’s Corner beside Scott’s Ferry Road on Dec. 31, 1987. She died of several small-caliber gunshot wounds to the head.
Craig Fallaw, 34, was killed Oct. 8, 1978. While working as a security guard at Westlake subdivision, he was shot in the face by an unknown assailant with a .38-caliber pistol. The murder weapon was recovered in 1982, but authorities were unable to link it to anyone.
Monty McAvoy was shot in the back of the head in his Winfield home on June 28, 1984.