Murder charge filed against Cape man in nightclub shooting

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Malcolm Harris

A Cape Girardeau man was charged with murder Monday after a witness told police she saw him pull the gun from the waistband of his pants and fire the single shot that ended the life of 32-year-old Nicholas Gilbert.

Malcolm U. Harris, 21, was handed felony counts of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in Sunday's early morning shooting at The Spot, a Cape Girardeau nightclub on South Sprigg Street. The charges, filed by assistant prosecutor Angel Woodruff, were based on the accounts several witnesses told police but largely drew from one woman who said she saw almost all of the events unfold.

Meanwhile, the nightclub's owners said Monday that they will not reopen their doors, and had been planning on closing Jan. 1 anyway, after a New Year's Eve party. Terrance Jackson, who owns The Spot with his wife, Ullanda, said the shooting has removed any desire they may have had to host a party.

"We didn't want to close it on a note like this," Terrance Jackson said. "But after what happened, we don't feel like we have a choice."

Some of the questions that loomed in the 36 hours after the 1 a.m. shooting were answered by a police probable-cause statement that relayed witness accounts of what took place before the shooting. Police, for example, arrived at the nightclub to find Gilbert already dead with an apparent gunshot wound to his chest.

But the statement, prepared by Cape Girardeau detective Sgt. Don Perry, also raised a few questions, such as the source of a blood trail beginning about 10 feet from Gilbert's body inside the club and ending in The Spot's parking lot.

Witnesses said they noticed the two men engaging in a physical altercation moments before the shooting. Witnesses described the nightclub as "chaos" after the single shot sent the 100 or so patrons streaming to the doors.

Harris, who denied to police that he was at The Spot at the time, was picked out of a photo lineup. Police made contact, the statement says, with a woman who Perry calls "The Eyewitness," a woman who was at The Spot with friends that night.

The woman told police she knew Harris and agreed that he was at The Spot at the time of the shooting. She knows he was, she said, because she saw him shoot Gilbert. The woman said she had even had a conversation with Harris before she noticed that the two were fighting.

As they fought, Harris pulled a handgun from his waistband, the witness said, as he fell to the floor and she saw him fire the gun. Harris was taken into protective custody Sunday afternoon after police received reports that he was acting in an "aggressive and out-of-control manner," the statement says. Harris was apprehended at the home of a relative in an extreme state of intoxication, the report said.

The statement also notes that Harris had an "obvious injury to the eye" and suggests it was from being punched. He also had a bloody injury to his left hand, the report said.

At the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Harris' hands tested positive for residue left on people who are believed to have handled metals such as those found in a gun.

Harris has a criminal record that includes a guilty plea last year in the robbery of a Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority driver. As a condition of his probation, Harris was sentenced to 120 days of shock incarceration and five years probation. Harris was not supposed to be consuming alcohol or be in establishments where alcohol is the primary source of sales.

Harris is facing the possibility of a life sentence if convicted. A judge set the cash-only bond at $100,000 that will likely keep Harris in police custody at least throughout the proceedings.

Gilbert's friends continued to mourn the loss of their loved one.

"He was a good man and loved by all," said Donna Brewer, 32, who grew up with Gilbert in Sikeston, Mo. "He had overcome his troubles. He had turned it around and was doing good."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

433 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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