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Family, friends gather to demand answers in Columbia man’s death

Family and friends of Anthony Warren demanded justice for the 30-year-old outside the restaurant that he was killed.

Warren was killed by an armed security guard at the Waffle House on Vandiver Drive in the early hours of Jan. 1. Columbia police say the guard feared for his safety and the safety of others after he broke up a fight between two men that involved a gun. Warren was not involved in that fight, but was one of the people the security guard felt “encroached” on him inside the restaurant.

Those gathered at the scene on Tuesday night were skeptical that Warren had anything to do with the situation. Family members tell ABC 17 News that the single bullet that hit Warren was in his side and exited his stomach. They believe Warren was trying to leave the Waffle House when the guard shot him.

“We got to have justice out of this, bottom line,” Glenn Cobbins, a friend of the Warren family and city outreach specialist, said. “That’s all we want here. And everyone in Columbia should want it. Not just this community, everyone.”

ABC 17 News dug into the requirements necessary to earn an armed security guard license in Columbia. Applicants must get 70 percent of questions right on each part of a three-part test that the Columbia Police Department puts together. A copy of the test, which ABC 17 News was allowed to review, includes 19 questions about gun safety, 17 questions on gun law and 14 questions on gun skills.

Cobbins said guards, and anyone handling weapons, should also understand how to de-escalate situations without firing a gun. He questioned if the guard in Warren’s case needed to use a gun, and whether or not the guard’s use of a weapon made the situation more tense.

“You can be trained to use a gun and this type of thing, but are you trained to deal with people?” Cobbins said. “Because they’re human beings before anything. If you got a human being, and he don’t have a gun, he’s just a human.”

One man received non-life-threatening injuries at the Waffle House that morning. Columbia police say he was shot when he confronted another person that pulled a gun from his pants inside the restaurant. The gun went off twice during the fight, hitting the man and an “unknown object” in the store, police said. That shooting prompted the security guard to enter the store with his gun drawn, and ordered the men to drop the weapon, which police say they did.

Jaylon Freelon was charged on Monday for tampering with evidence at the scene. Columbia police said Freelon took the gun the two men were fighting over from the store and threw it in a grassy area near the store.

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