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Five Indicted For Murders After Months Of Increased Gun Violence

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm
Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.

A Franklin County grand jury on Friday returned indictments in five murders going back to July. 

Four of the five shootings happened within a 10-day period in September. The accused suspects are all 33 years old or younger, while the victims were younger than 34, falling into a trend of rising gun violence among young people in Columbus this summer.

Robert Gene Bowens, Jr., 23, faces three murder charges with firearm specifications, including one aggravated murder charge, in the September 16 shooting death of Charles Knapper, 21. The aggravated murder charge, the most severe of the indictments, could lead to a possible sentence of life without parole.

Lason Tyleke Booker, 20, was indicted on three charges – including two murder charges with firearm specifications – in the shooting death of Jerome Trayvaughn Steward, 26, on July 19. Adonis Terrell Walker, 22, faces one felonious assault charge and two murder charges in the September 7 shooting death of Dezujwaun Trevon Pyfrom.

Raphiel LeMar Humphries, 33, faces two murder charges in the September 12 shooting death of Michael Cory Davis. Dennis Deroyc Mensah, 29, faces two murder charges in the September 17 shooting death of Prince Asare, 31.

City leaders have addressed the uptick in violence several times and have announced initiatives to engage young people who may not have the same support system in place due to COVID-19.

In July, Mayor Andrew Ginther said the summer's shootings outpace recent years in Columbus, but they mirror what's happening in other cities around the country.

"It isn't unique to Columbus," Ginther said, "but we are responsible for how our community responds to the spike in violence."

One effort introduced by the city is called the Family Stabilization Unit, which will involve family members of at-risk young people to address environmental factors that might contribute to violence.