Man charged with murder in BG shooting sees case go to grand jury

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Justin Story, Bowling Green Daily News

A Western Kentucky University student who died in a shooting this summer at The Muse apartment complex was shot with her own gun, a detective testified Wednesday.

The criminal case against Malik Jones, 30, who is charged with murder and convicted felon in possession of a handgun, was referred to a grand jury following a preliminary hearing in Warren District Court.

Jones is accused of causing the death of Ayanna Morgan, 21, by shooting her on July 23 at the apartment complex on Russellville Road following a physical altercation.

Jones is the second defendant to have appeared in court on charges stemming from the incident.

Kobee Lancaster faces a first-degree assault charge based on allegations that he struck Morgan while driving a Jeep Patriot from the scene.

Additional details about the incident were revealed in court Wednesday through the testimony of Detective Ryan Dillon of the Bowling Green Police Department.

Questioned by Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kori Beck Bumgarner, Dillon testified that Morgan did not know Jones very well prior to confronting him on the night of July 23.

Surveillance video footage reviewed by police appears to show Morgan approaching Jones, who Dillon said was there with his twin brother, Malcolm Jones, Lancaster and a woman who left the scene with the group.

Dillon said that Malik Jones is seen on video punching Morgan several times during the confrontation before she begins chasing him around the Jeep until he climbs in on the passenger side.

Morgan attempts to open the passenger door, leading to another confrontation between her and Malik Jones outside the vehicle in which the two fall to the ground and Malcolm Jones “stomps on her head seven or eight times,” Dillon said Wednesday.

The video footage does not clearly show a gunshot, but Dillon said that Morgan can be seen bleeding heavily, and she stands up and approaches the vehicle again before she is struck by the passenger side mirror.

Dillon said he believes Morgan had the gun out prior to the struggle outside the vehicle and still had the gun when she hit the ground, but that only Jones’ hand was on the gun when the shooting occurred.

Through executing a search warrant and interviewing witnesses, police established that the gun used in the shooting belonged to Morgan.

Dillon said the woman who was with the group told police that she left with them and heard them talking about the handgun as they left the complex.

After she was brought to her car, she went to Lancaster’s residence, but neither Malik nor Malcolm Jones were there by that time, Dillon said.

The handgun has not been recovered by police.

Dillon testified that police identified Malik Jones as the murder suspect after other detectives reviewed the footage and recognized him through prior contact.

A warrant charging Jones with murder was issued shortly after Morgan died on July 24 at TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville.

An autopsy listed Morgan’s cause of death as homicide by gunshot, noting wounds to her shoulder and thigh.

Jones was captured Oct. 19 in Detroit by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Questioned about what may have prompted the confrontation, Dillon said police learned that it had been announced at the complex shortly before the shooting that the swimming pool was closing for the day and that Morgan approached the group to complain about the noise they were making.

“I don’t believe they knew each other that well,” Dillon said.

Police recovered a cellphone that was dropped during the altercation and were able to identify it as belonging to Malik Jones, the detective said.

Dillon said everyone who was present at the altercation has been interviewed.

When Lancaster turned himself in to police, he made a statement to officers that Morgan brought the gun to the altercation, Dillon said.

“Kobee said there was a verbal altercation that escalated quickly,” Dillon said.