Two charged with firing pellet guns at COTA bus during protest

Two Columbus men are accused of firing pellet guns into a passing COTA bus during a June 24 protest outside City Hall.

Gage A. Patrick, 18, of the Milo-Grogan neighborhood, and Salvatore J .Sowell, 24, of the Near East Side, were indicted Thursday by a Franklin County grand jury on felony counts of vandalism, inducing panic and disrupting public service.

The shots shattered five windows in the bus as it passed the protest on West Broad Street west of Front Street about 6:30 p.m., Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

Damage to the windows is estimated at $5,400, he said.

The charge of disruption to public service was filed because the bus had to be taken out of service, and its passengers, none of whom was injured, had to be transferred to another bus.

Sowell also faces a charge of tampering with evidence because he allegedly hid a pellet gun before his arrest, O’Brien said.

The Downtown protests, which began more than one month ago after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, originally were focused in the area of Broad and High streets and the Statehouse, but they have migrated west to City Hall.

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