Olentangy Valley News

Powder Room

Three sentenced in murder as range awaits fate

Shooting range near Four Corners that has courted controversy could be replaced with condominiums

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Three suspects involved in the February 2012 theft of nearly 100 guns from a Powell shooting range -- and the subsequent slaying of a gas station attendant -- were handed lengthy prison sentences this month.

Jeffrey M. Collins, 23, of Wilson Woods Drive in Columbus was sentenced to 43 years to life in prison, and Austin M. Cusey, 19, also of Wilson Woods Drive in Columbus, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Both were convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder in connection with the death of Mohammad Hassan at a Dublin gas station.

A third suspect, Eddie Murphy, 23, of South Harris Avenue in Columbus, also was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated murder and was sentenced to 30 years to life for his involvement in the slaying.

On Feb. 8, 2012, Collins and Cusey smashed through a wall to enter the Powder Room shooting range, 2470 Powell Road, and stole 97 guns.

Five days later, the three men robbed a Sunoco gas station at 201 W. Bridge St. During the robbery, Hassan was shot and killed with one of the stolen guns.

All three suspects were arrested by police following a 10-day search. They were sentenced this month in Franklin County Municipal Court.

"This was a horrible tragedy for our city and surrounding areas," said Powell police detective Darren Smith in a written statement. "We can now put this behind us and move on as a stronger community."

Police have recovered 80 of the 97 stolen guns.

The Powder Room was in the news earlier this month after Powell officials heard a proposal from a condominium developer that could force the shooting range to relocate.

At a meeting May 8, the city's planning and zoning commission discussed plans for a development that includes 49 condominium units on 8.7 acres near Grace Drive, Powell Center and the Olentangy Ridge subdivision.

Zoning officials will review the plan several more times before it can be approved.

The Powder Room has leased two commercial buildings on the land since the 1960s, but will be forced out if the development is approved. The entrance to the complex would be constructed where the Powder Room currently stands.

The proposed homes would sell for more than $250,000 apiece. Construction could begin as early as summer 2014, but it's not clear when a final development plan will be presented and approved.

Powell Development Director Dave Betz said the plan, proposed by Arlington Homes, has plenty of support.

"It got a generally good reception," Betz said. "The commission was very happy with the plan."

He said it's likely the number of units in the development would be slightly reduced before it's approved to lower the density.

Owners of the Powder Room did not return repeated calls requesting an interview.

Powell City Council members have taken issue with the shooting range in the past because of repeated zoning violations.

In 2008, the shooting range was closed briefly after a stray bullet exited the building and struck an adjacent building while residents were nearby.

In July 2010, it was temporarily closed after bullet holes were discovered in the roof and walls, indicating stray bullets were exiting the building.

The range was reopened both times after owners beefed up its bullet containment system.

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