A shooting that sounded like leftover July Fourth fireworks to neighbors left one man dead and shattered the tranquility of a Southeast Decatur apartment complex Thursday morning.
Jason Edward Tapscott, 44, of Decatur, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said. Tapscott was pronounced dead after his body was found in the 1600 block of North Street Southeast when Decatur police said the responded to a call at 2:28 a.m. Thursday “to check the well-being of a male.”
Persons of interest in the homicide were being interviewed, and the incident was believed to be isolated, police said at 4:45 p.m. when they first released information on the incident. No arrest had been reported by 6 a.m. this morning.
A neighbor said Tapscott's body was found in a parking area next to a gravel alley behind apartment units on North Street near 16th Avenue. The apartments are on the opposite side of North Street from Decatur Fire and Rescue Station 3.
Kensie Campbell, 19, who lives near where the victim was found, said she and her husband were awakened early Thursday by a loud noise.
“We thought it was fireworks,” she said. “I know it had to be around 12 or after 12 because I had gotten up to feed (an infant son) already once.”
Jeff Cooksy, 59, who also lives nearby, said he woke up after hearing a sound “like an M-80 or M-100” fireworks about 1:30 a.m. and went back to sleep. He woke up again shortly afterward when his dogs started barking again. When he looked out the window and saw firefighters and police cars, he thought somebody had been hurt in an accident.
It wasn’t until about 6:30 a.m. that Cooksy learned what happened when he said Decatur police Detective Jonathan Macklin came to his door and told him about the shooting.
“I was shocked,” Cooksy said. “You know how you get in an elevator and it drops? That’s how I felt.
“I’ve been here about seven years, and this is the worst it’s ever happened in this area. I’ve had a couple of neighbors pass, but nothing like this.”
Ben Wilder, 64, said he has lived in the area about two years and it has been peaceful.
“There’s a few kids, but it’s quiet,” he said.
Corey Campbell, 20, said he and his wife would be more cautious after the shooting.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We’re cool with our neighbors, but you never can tell.”
Cooksy said he moved to Decatur in the 1980s from Chicago.
“It got so bad up there,” he said. “That’s the reason my mom and I moved here.”
He said he was shaken up by Thursday’s shooting.
“It gets me to thinking: Is any place safe anymore?”
Wilder said he didn’t hear anything overnight and learned about the shooting during the police investigation.
“I woke up about 5 this morning and went out front to smoke a cigarette and drink a cup of coffee, and there was a crime scene in progress," Wilder said. "They asked me to go back inside until they cleared the scene."
He called his office to report he’d be coming in late and said he told coworkers: “You aren’t going to believe this. You’re going to think I’m really B.S.-ing. I’m being held hostage by the crime scene.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s like CSI Decatur.”
Police haven’t released any other details on the shooting but asked that anyone with information regarding the case to contact Violent Crimes Sgt. Mike Burleson at 256-341-4600.