Police say a man fatally shot by officers Sunday night was on the run because he killed a man whose body was found in the trunk of a burning car last week.
Germonta Wallace died in an apartment building off Remount Road Sunday night during a firefight with eight Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers who had come to apprehend him. Police said he was one of three men accused in last week’s killing.
Police said Wallace shot at the group of officers, all members of the department’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team. Officer Jessica Zinoble was shot in the ankle and is recovering from a leg injury that is not life-threatening.
Marquez Breon Springs-Owens, Wallace’s childhood friend, was present at the shooting. After Wallace was killed, Springs-Owens barricaded himself inside a home and police called in the SWAT team and negotiators.
Springs-Owens surrendered late Sunday, and a few hours later police charged him with murder in the death of Norris Martin, whose body was found in a burning car last week near the Gaston County town of Ranlo.
Springs-Owens, 29, is also charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, robbery conspiracy, kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Police said he did not shoot at police during the Sunday confrontation on Watson Drive, near the intersection of Remount Road and West Boulevard.
Wallace’s aunt, Deborah Wallace, said the family last saw her nephew a few days before Christmas.
She said police came to his mother’s house late last week, saying Wallace was accused of killing a man and they were looking for him. But the family didn’t know where he was.
“The cops came by and said that they had somebody downtown and (the suspect) was pointing the finger at Germonta and they wanted Germonta to come and talk with them,” she said. “They said they just wanted to talk to him.”
Wallace said her nephew had gotten out of prison just a few months ago and was trying to stay out of trouble. He had gotten work with a janitorial service, cleaning office buildings.
Court records show Wallace was charged with manslaughter in March 2009 and convicted two years later. He was released from prison on Sept. 28, but had to report to a probation officer. Before that, he was convicted of a November 2002 armed robbery and spent nearly five years in prison.
Deborah Wallace said family members were at the Medical Examiner’s office on Monday, viewing her nephew’s body, but the family was still waiting on the police to provide more details about the shooting.
“I actually don't know how it went down,” Deborah Wallace said. “We don't know who was doing the shooting. We don't know if it was police or who.”
Another suspect in Martin’s killing, James Evans, was arrested and charged with murder last week. Police said Evans was captured while running away from the burning car where Martin’s body was discovered. The case has also been linked to a Wednesday shooting in northwest Charlotte.
As part of CMPD policy, all eight officers who returned fire at Wallace have been placed on paid, administrative leave as the investigation continues. They are:
▪ Zinobile, an 11-year veteran, who was shot in the ankle during the firefight. A CMPD spokesman said Zinobile was in stable condition Monday, “doing well and recovering” from her injuries.
▪ Joshua Allman, a nine-year veteran.
▪ Tim Kiefer, a K9 officer hired in 2007.
▪ David Michaud, who joined CMPD in 1994.
▪ Vaughn Pauls, hired in 1999.
▪ Donald Penix, an 18-year veteran.
▪ Eric Peterson, who joined the force in 1987.
▪ Jeremy Towe, hired in 2001.
Martin’s body was inside a vehicle that was set ablaze at Warlick Academy, an alternative school in Ranlo. He was convicted of common law robbery in 1998, and court records show his probation was later revoked for other offenses.
Evans, 28, has been charged with murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, breaking and entering, possession of a firearm by a felon and kidnapping in connection with Martin’s death. He was found as he tried to flee from the burning vehicle, police say.
A Dec. 30 shooting on Woodland Circle in northwest Charlotte also is believed to be tied to the case. There, investigators found Jamal Robinson suffering from a gunshot wound.