Suspect charged in murder connected to death of Ahmonta Harris
COLUMBIA — Columbia police have charged a man in a January killing believed to be connected to the death of a well known activist in the black community, Almonta Harris.
A warrant was issued Friday for 24-year-old Laron Nesbitt, who was already in jail on other charges. He is accused of killing Deonte Gainwell on Weymeyer Drive in the early morning hours of Jan. 17.
Gainwell was in the spotlight because he shot and killed Harris in November of last year. At the time, deputies said, Harris broke into a house for a robbery and threatened Gainwell who was also armed. Gainwell shot Harris, who died at the scene.
Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight said evidence made it clear Harris planned the robbery and had unlawfully entered the home through a window — thus, Gainwell acted in self-defense. Knight said Gainwell would not have been charged in Harris' death.
Harris was well-known as the coordinator of the popular but illegal "fireworks war" held every Fourth of July in the Brodie Drive area.
Investigators said last month they were actively looking for connections between Harris' death and the murder of Gainwell.
Nesbitt, the suspect in that case, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action and was being held on $1 million cash-only bond.