By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
MUSKOGEE, OK -- A suspected gunman in the Muskogee mall shooting appeared in court Monday.
Testimony reveals it was a fight between two groups called the Northsiders and Southsiders that happened to spill over into the mall on a spring Saturday afternoon.
News On 6 reporter Lori Fullbright was in the courtroom and sat through 10 witnesses. She said it was obvious why it's so hard to prosecute gang crimes, because many of the witnesses had memory lapses and others were caught in outright lies.
She said it was hard to tell if they were doing it out of fear or loyalty, but the District Attorney was clearly frustrated that some of his witnesses were changing their stories.
Security was beefed up for the preliminary hearing of Dondray Fowler. Only one entrance at the courthouse was open and everyone was required to go through a metal detector.
Police believe Fowler pulled out a gun and fired shots on April 10th inside Muskogee's Arrowhead Mall. By the time it was over, one man was dead and five others were hurt.
One of them was Walker Stewart, a retired McAlester police officer who was at the mall with his family when he was shot in the hip.
Most of the witnesses agreed they saw two groups of young men arguing when one of them pulled out a gun and fired.
One woman, Cindy Johnson, claimed she saw Fowler pull out the gun, but, said she did not see the actual shooting.
Many of the witnesses said they saw or heard the shooting but couldn't identify anyone's faces. The DA asked several witnesses, after their testimony didn't match their initial police reports, if they had been threatened to change their stories. They all said no, but, couldn't explain the discrepancies.
One woman, a nurse, testified a bullet whizzed over her head and she ran into a store when the shots rang out and when she saw a man on the ground, she gave him CPR. She said while she was working on him, a man approached her and said he was the victim's cousin and if she let him die, he'd come after her.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last at least three days. Once it's over, the judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order Fowler to stand trial for murder and shooting with intent to kill.