Suspect in Columbiana Centre shooting charged with murder - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Suspect in Columbiana Centre shooting charged with murder

Michael James Young, Jr. Michael James Young, Jr.
Brian Christian Leagones Brian Christian Leagones

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A 21-year-old man arrested for shooting his estranged wife outside a Columbia mall and killing her father has been charged in the shootings, and officials think they may have found the murder weapn.

Michael James Young, Jr. has been charged with murder in the Wednesday shooting death of 49-year-old Robert Bell of Gaston.

Young also has been charged with assault and battery with intent to kill for shooting 21-year-old Shaunna Lynn Bell.

Sgt. Florence McCants says Columbia police searched a residence Michael James Young, Jr., had access to.  During the search they found and took three hand guns. They are sending the handguns off for analysis from SLED. They suspect one could be the murder weapon. 

The ownership of the handguns is still unknown, but none of the handguns came up stolen.

Young was taken into custody by the Richland County Sheriff's Department and the Columbia Police Department near the Super 8 on Fairfield Road, near I-20.

Columbia Police Chief Dean Crisp says friends of the shooting victim's family convinced Young to turn himself in. Crisp says Young and the friends were on their way to meet with officers, when Young became anxious about turning himself in and jumped out of the car.

At that time, Crisp says, a Richland County deputy who was in the area stopped to assist. Then Columbia officers arrived.

Earlier Thursday, Chief Crisp said Columbia police arrested and charged 21-year-old Brian Christian Leagones, of Columbia, with obstruction of justice and accessory to murder. He's being held at the Lexington County Detention Center.

Officers think Leagones was the driver of the car that was waiting for Young.

Officials think the shooting started with an argument in the mall, where Young's estranged wife Shaunna Bell worked.

A police report says Young went to the Columbiana Centre on Wednesday. He threatened to damage Bell's parents' car, as well as tear up the Dell computer kiosk and burn it.

Later, after being kicked out of the mall by police and mall security, Young is said to have threatened to commit suicide.

Officials say Bell called her father, at which time Young followed her to the parking lot and shot both her and her father.

Police say it happened at about 6:48pm Wednesday in the lot on the main entrance side, near the JC Penney store.

Shaunna Bell's father, 49-year-old Robert Bell of Gaston, died from multiple gunshot wounds. Shaunna Bell, was taken to Palmetto Health Richland and is now recovering from surgery.

Police say they began looking into Young's activities May 16th because he'd been calling his wife at work. At first, the case was treated as unlawful communication but later upgraded to stalking.     

Police took him into custody June 5th. Chief Dean Crisp says Young was arrested on a charge of stalking.

Crisp says Young got out on $75,000 bond the next day. The judge in that case ordered him not to have any contact with the victim.

Columbia Police Sgt. Florence McCants says after Young violated that order Wednesday, officers were issuing new arrest warrants - and that's when they got the call about the shootings.

Young's rap sheet is three pages long and dates back to 2004. He's been convicted on gun and drug charges. He's also done time on various misdemeanor charges.

As for Shaunna Bell, she was in stable condition at a Columbia hospital until Thursday evening, when she was released home.

Updated by Chantelle Janelle

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