$10 million bond setPublished 9:07pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Ronald Fitts, the suspect in a club shooting that wounded four and killed one, is in the Dallas County Jail under a $10 million bond.
On Wednesday, Dallas County District Judge Bob Armstrong levied the bond, which was recommended by the district attorney’s office. Broken down, the bond was $5 million for the murder charge and $1 million for each of the people shot.
Shortly after Armstrong handed down the bond, people from both sides who had packed the courtroom on the second floor filed out. Words were exchanged between two rival factions. Someone pushed someone else. Another person yelled at someone on the other side.
The melee erupted outside the courtroom with deputies flooding in from all over the courthouse. It spread to the first floor of the courthouse near the tax assessor’s office. Deputies cleared the halls. Nobody was injured, although threats of shooting and punching were passed.
This was Fitts’ first full day back in Selma. After the shooting on Saturday, Jan. 15 he reportedly fled to Henrico County, Va., where authorities picked him up after they stopped him for questioning and he ran.
Selma police detective Beauty Benjamin testified she was called to the Vaughan Regional Medical Center emergency room on Jan. 15 after the shooting, where she interviewed four of the five wounded in a shooting outside the 12 Tropicana on Alabama Avenue.
She did not talk to Rodney Martin, who died from his wound shortly after arriving at the emergency room.
Benjamin testified all but one of the four remaining victims identified Fitts as the man firing the gun, which was a.40-caliber handgun.
“They all knew each other,” she told the court. “It was a beef, going way, way back.”
Benjamin also told the court two police officers saw the shooting as it unfolded and returned fire.
Joseph Fitzpatrick, who represents Fitts, complained the bond set by the judge was too high and did not fit to the guidelines established for the court. “That’s tantamount to no bond at all,” he said.
Armstrong dismissed Fitzpatrick’s objection.
Then, Armstrong turned to Fitts, who stood in front of him in the standard black-and-white jail issue jumpsuit.
“This kind of behavior has the potential to absolutely destroy our community,” Armstrong said. “It demoralizes people. It makes people want to move. It makes businesses not to want to come here.”
Armstrong said shootings such as this one causes ripple effects.
“It is the worst kind of behavior in our community,” Armstrong said.