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Columbus mayor's son killed by gunfire

 

Robert E. Smith Jr. was shot dead Wednesday at his home at 169 Temple Cove in Columbus. He is the eldest son of the city's mayor.

Robert E. Smith Jr. was shot dead Wednesday at his home at 169 Temple Cove in Columbus. He is the eldest son of the city's mayor. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

Dispatch Staff Report

 

The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.

 

Robert E. Smith Jr., 39, was shot dead Wednesday afternoon at his home at 169 Temple Cove, according to Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant. 

 

Smith is the eldest son of Columbus Mayor Robert Smith. Merchant confirmed to The Dispatch that Columbus Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are working the case and treating it as a homicide. 

 

However, CPD Assistant Chief Fred Shelton said the investigation is still in its early stages, and no arrests have been made. 

 

MBI is leading the investigation, city officials confirmed. 

 

Police responded to the residence at about 2:40 p.m., Merchant said. He would not disclose further details of the incident, including where Smith was shot or how many times. 

 

He said the autopsy is scheduled for this morning at the State Medical Examiner's Office in Pearl. All other evidence from the scene has been sent to the State Crime Lab in Jackson. 

 

City police, under the direction of two MBI investigators, remained on the scene until shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, city public information officer Joe Dillon said. 

 

As of this morning, Dillon said police would not release any details of the investigation. Specifically, he would not comment on whether there were signs of forced entry at the victim's home. 

 

MBI spokesperson Warren Strain echoed the city's position, telling The Dispatch, this morning, it was too early in the process to release those details. 

 

"As we move through the investigation, more information will come to light," Strain said. "Until we get some of the forensics back...and conduct interviews, it's just too early." 

 

It's not been discussed, Dillon said, whether the mayor will take any administrative leave in light of his family's tragedy. He assured, however, city services would continue uninterrupted. 

 

"Our hearts hurt for the mayor and his family," Dillon said. "There's nothing that can prepare anyone for something like this. The mayor spends every day serving the people of this city, and now he needs our love and support. That's all we can do at this time."

 

 

 

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