Suspect in custody in Springwood Nursery murder


EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has charged a suspect in Wednesday morning’s deadly shooting at Springwood Nursery.

31-year-old Christopher Lamar Rumph is being charged with Murder, Possession of Firearm during a Commission of a Crime and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

He is currently under arrest in Richmond County, Captain Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s office confirms that Rumph is a co-worker of Jerry Whitten’s.

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Wednesday morning deputies and investigators searched for clues in the shooting death of 44-year old Jerry Whitten.

Investigators say Whitten was found by a fellow employee at Springwood Nursery on Cox Road in Evans around 6am.

“He suffered from two gunshot wounds. One to the neck and one to the side torso,” said Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Major Steve Morris.

Richard Albert lives close to the crime scene.

“It’s too close to home for one thing and I believe I heard it when it happened,” said Albert.

Albert says he woke up around 4:30 am to a loud noise followed by constant banging.

“Somebody was beating on something like the side of one of those trucks over there. I thought it may have been him,” said Albert.

Now, the Vietnam veteran says he’ll be keeping a watchful eye until whoever shot Whitten is put behind bars. His plans…

“To get my 357 magnum and strap it to my hip,” said Albert.

Parents dropped their teens off across from the crime scene at Evans High School.

Principal Michael Johnson says he was made aware of the shooting when deputies first arrived on scene.

“I had gotten in touch with my superintendent this morning and she had gotten in touch with the sheriff’s office and they assured us that there were no concerns and we could go ahead with school as normal,” said Johnson.

He adds at no time were any students put in danger and proper procedure was followed by the school.

“We went into our  safety precautions, going into our modified lockdown which we pretty much do that every day. We keep the exterior doors locked, students have to have passes back and forth to go to different classes,” said Johnson.

Now, as family and friends mourn the loss of Whitten, investigators are working to piece together who could have pulled the trigger, interviewing fellow co-workers of Whitten and leaving no stone unturned.

“We had some incidents reported to us earlier this morning after this occurred. Some criminal activity in the neighborhood or nearby neighborhood. So, we’re looking into that as well,” said Morris.

So far, no arrests have been made.

NewsChannel 6 will continue to keep you updated on this developing story.

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison has released the name of the victim found at Springwood Nursery Wednesday morning.

44-year-old Jerry Whitten died from an apparent gunshot wound. One in the neck and one in the side of his torso.

He worked the night shift sweeping parking lots. He clocked out at 3:40 a.m.

No suspect has been named in the shooting.

Stay with NewsChannel 6 for the latest details in the investigation.

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison confirms with NewsChannel 6 that one person is dead at Springwood Nursery following an apparent shooting.

Garrison says an employee found the man around 6 a.m. this morning.

Major Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says that foul play is suspected.

Evans High School, just across the street from the nursery, was put on a soft lockdown for a time.

Michael Johnson, principal of Evans High, tells us that the school and its students are not involved in the situation and that the campus is safe.

“Unfortunately it’s a sad situation,” Johnson tells us. “My heart goes out to the victim and family. I do think the sheriff’s office did a good job letting us know first thing in the morning when they found out what took place that we were not in any immediate threat.”

Stay with NewsChannel 6 for the latest.

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