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Marcus Best

City investigators said Marcus Best confessed to firing the gun that killed Marcus Smith outside the Elks Club downtown.

Best, 24, of 311 N. Jefferson St., was arrested Tuesday by New Castle police for the fatal shooting that occurred Aug. 3 during a fight outside the bar on Moravia Street.

Smith, 37, a former Youngstown resident who had addresses on the city’s East Side and North Hill, had been shot with what police believe was a .38-caliber handgun, according to reports.

Since then, Best was placed in the Mercer County jail for a parole violation for a nonviolent crime.

New Castle police have charged Best with criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of instruments of crime and one count of recklessly endangering another person.

He was brought to New Castle for arraignment and is in the Lawrence County jail without bond, awaiting an Aug. 22 preliminary hearing.

“We’ve been working pretty diligently on this case since it happened,” Police Chief Bobby Salem said Tuesday.

The shooting occurred shortly before 2 a.m., police said. Smith was taken to Jameson Hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.

Investigators said they found two .38-caliber shell casings at the scene.

A witness initially told police Smith had been arguing with two men and “knocked out” one of them. The witness said he then heard gunshots but didn’t see who had fired them.

However, the same person told police a week later that he had had a clear view of the fight and had seen Best run into the crowd and fire a shot into the air. He said Best then fired again into the crowd and ran.

Police viewed a surveillance video from a neighboring business that showed Best firing the shots, and another witness identified him.

On Aug. 4, Best told officers he had been at the Elks Club the previous morning, but had left before the shooting.

Police said they interviewed Best again at the Mercer County jail Monday and he asked, “Do you have new charges for me?”

He told them his attorney, Stanley Booker, had advised him not to give a statement if there were new charges.

The officers told Best they intended to file charges of criminal homicide and told him to talk to his attorney.

They said they had viewed the surveillance video with Best and when they were leaving he stated, “I didn’t mean to kill him. I was just firing up in the air to break up the fight. When the crowd didn’t break up, I fired two more shots into the ground.”

He said he didn’t know he had hit anyone until later, according to police.

An autopsy performed in Beaver County showed that a laceration on Smith’s cheek appeared to have been a grazing wound caused by a bullet that had entered his upper chest.

The bullet traveled through the thoracic area and lodged in his back.

Another bullet wound on Smith’s right wrist had an entry and exit wound. Those were the only two injuries, according to reports.

Forensic pathologist Dr. James Smith determined the cause of Smith’s death to be homicide from a gunshot wound.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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