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73-year-old man charged with involuntary manslaughter in June east Columbus death

Robert Thomas, 73, was indicted in connection to the shooting death of 43-year-old Jason Keys.
Credit: Bill Price/WBNS

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A man is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to a homicide in June in east Columbus, according to Franklin County court records.

On Oct. 7, Robert Thomas, 73, was indicted on a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing in connection to the shooting death of 43-year-old Jason Keys. 

Columbus police said Keys was shot and killed during a neighborhood dispute in the 2000 block of Walnut Hill Park Drive on June 20 around 3:40 p.m.

According to police, the shots were fired during a dispute involving several people in the street.

Several people showed their guns, police wrote in a press release.

Police said Keys left a Father's Day Party at a family member's home before the shooting and according to court records, he was confronted by a neighbor with a rifle.

Elias Smith, 24, who was not involved in the dispute, heard arguing and fired several shots at Keys from his home, fatally wounding him. Smith then went back inside his home and refused to come out, prompting SWAT team members to respond to the home. 

Smith was then arrested and charged with murder.

According to court records, Smith told police he believed Keys "may have been a threat because he believed he was holding a rifle magazine" and didn't recognize him.

Police said Thomas started the dispute that led to the shooting.

Jail rosters and court records do not show Thomas in custody.

Anyone with information regarding this incident can call the Columbus Police Homicide Unit at (614) 645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-TIPS (8477).

Editor's note: Columbus police initially wrote in a press release "several people produced firearms, to include Keys."  According to Franklin County Municipal Court records, Smith told police he believed Keys had a rifle magazine, not a gun.  The story has been updated.

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