Crime

Zodiac shooter sentenced to 15 years in prison

Moments before he was sentenced, the Macon gang member who shot a man multiple times inside the Zodiac Lounge apologized to his victim’s family.

“I’m sorry is all well and good,” Judge Howard Simms told the man he was about to sentence, 29-year-old John Michael Hollingshed Jr., “but it’s a couple days late and a couple dollars short to do Mr. Davis any good.”

Hollingshed pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and violating the state’s gang act during a Friday hearing in Bibb County Superior Court.

Simms sentenced Hollingshed to serve 30 years, 15 of them in prison, as part of a plea bargain.

Hollingshed, an admitted member of Macon’s Mafia street gang, testified last month at the trial of Andre Bonner, the 32-year-old man whom jurors later convicted of fatally shooting a 17-year-old in the club’s underground parking deck July 5, 2013.

In his testimony, he admitted he shot 23-year-old Deion Davis inside the club after Davis had been beaten by multiple members of the Mafia gang.

With security guards distracted and breaking up the fight, he and another man retrieved a gun from a car in the parking deck.

After returning inside the club, he shot Davis.

Jamonni Bland, 17, had been in the club at the time of the shooting and ran into the parking deck during the gunfire. That’s where a security guard testified he later saw Bonner shoot the teenager multiple times at close range.

During Bonner’s trial, Hollingshed implicated Bonner, his fellow gang member, in Bland’s death.

He said Bonner asked him for the gun he’d used to shoot Davis, and he handed it over.

Leaving the club, Bonner was in the front seat of 29-year-old Miranda Pettiway’s car and Hollingshed was in the back. At some point, Bonner told Pettiway to stop the car, got out and shot Bland, Hollingshed testified.

Hollingshed, who initially didn’t talk with police, said he feared he was going to be “framed” for Bland’s murder and later gave a statement to police to set the record straight.

During Friday’s hearing, Simms asked Hollingshed, “You didn’t have to shoot anybody, did you?”

“No sir,” Hollingshed replied.

“We’ll never know for sure, but I highly suspect if you hadn’t fired in that club, Jamonni Bland wouldn’t have died in that parking deck,” the judge said.

Simms said one day Hollingshed may realize his responsibility in the events that happened and feel regret.

“Regret is wisdom that comes too late,” he said. “Maybe somebody else can learn from you.”

Typically the young men convicted of criminal gang activity in Macon are younger, 18- or 19-year-olds, Simms said.

“You’re old enough to know better,” he said. “You’re a grown man acting like a child.”

Cases still are pending against Pettiway, the alleged getaway car driver, and 39-year-old Percy Welch, who is accused of participating in the beating.

WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT FILED

Jacqueline Sanders, Bland’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month seeking damages against Cee Hotel Management LLC, the operator of the Riverview Hotel, and the Riverview Ballroom, which operates the Zodiac Lounge.

According to the suit, filed in Bibb County State Court, Sanders alleges “numerous crimes” were reported to police on or near the club in the seven years surrounding the date of her son’s death.

She alleges negligence and contends that the management company failed to provide adequate security.

Attempts to contact the management company and the Riverview Ballroom were unsuccessful Friday.

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