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Murder suspect arrested in Florida

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COLUMBUS, Ind. — A suspect in a Columbus murder was arrested Sunday in Miami as he prepared to board a flight out of the country.

Clifton Hamilton Cook Sr., 46, of Columbus, has been charged with murder. He is accused of shooting Gary Joseph Brown, 50, of Greensburg, who died Friday at Columbus Regional Hospital from a single gunshot to the abdomen.

Brown was shot early Friday morning at the home of his girlfriend on Balsam Court in Arrowood addition, just west of Taylor Road and north off Rocky Ford Road.

Authorities believe Cook, who is the woman’s ex-boyfriend, shot Brown after a night of drinking and sending text messages to the woman.

Prosecutors filed the murder charge against Cook, a Cummins Inc. office worker, around noon Sunday.

Police provided Cook’s information to federal agents out of concern he would try to leave the country, and authorities discovered Sunday afternoon that Cook was in Miami and had booked a ticket to fly to Panama, Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash said.

Miami airport police arrested Cook on the warrant charging murder, which was “just issued in the nick of time,” Nash said.

Cook is being detained without bond in Miami and will have to be extradited to Bartholomew County.

Brown’s girlfriend told police that she and Brown, whom she had been dating for about two weeks, were in bed early Friday morning when she heard two or three “pops” and the sound of glass breaking, according to a probable cause affidavit.

She said Brown had gotten out of bed and left the bedroom when she heard a fourth “pop” and Brown fell back into the bedroom. He told his girlfriend, “I’ve been shot,” and she tried to perform first aid, the affidavit says.

Columbus Police Detective Jason Maddix wrote in the affidavit that he noticed several empty 9-mm shell casings inside and outside the woman’s residence when police arrived Friday morning.

The woman and Cook had dated between 2006 and January 2010 and continued to see each other “on and off” after their relationship ended, according to the affidavit.

Since she began dating Brown, Cook had been harassing her with text messages and following her, the affidavit says. She told police Cook had told her in the past that he owned a gun.

The woman received five text messages from Cook between 8:54 p.m. and 11:24 p.m. Thursday, the affidavit says.

Cook told police he spent Friday night at another woman’s house and did not leave until police asked him to come to the police station at 6:28 a.m. Friday.

However, the other woman told police that Cook suddenly left her house before 1 a.m. Friday and that he appeared to be “quite intoxicated” from drinking Cognac and beer.

She said Cook came back to her house later in the morning and left again at 6 a.m., according to the affidavit.

She also told police that Cook told her his relationship with Brown’s girlfriend was “done.”

She said Cook told her, “We’re over, and I’m devastated. I still love her,” the affidavit says.

Police searched a home owned by Cook at 4386 Kestrel Court on Friday. It had a for-sale sign in the yard.

Nash said filing a criminal charge on a weekend was an “extraordinary step” because county offices are not open to process the paperwork.

However, authorities asked Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann to sign an arrest warrant for the murder charge so it could be entered into national police databases.

Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Joe Richardson said investigators contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations to alert border patrols out of concern that Cook might try to leave the country.

“Several agencies came together and got this case wrapped up in just over 48 hours,” Richardson said.

The last murder in Columbus was in 2008.


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