Towne Point Elementary Custodian Acquitted Of Murder

The former Towne Point Elementary School custodian charged in the 2018 shooting death of a man after hours was acquitted of murder late Thursday afternoon.

The shooting occurred as custodian Rodney West, now 54, was leaving work just before 10 p.m. on August 28, 2018. As West walked to his car Derrick Combs, 39, arrived at the school in his vehicle.

Shortly after Combs arrived police began receiving reports of shots fired at the school. When officers arrived, Combs was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and was later pronounced deceased.

The shooting ended what officials said was an ongoing domestic dispute stemming from sexually charged text messages exchanged between West and Combs’ wife, who was also employed at Towne Point.

At the trial earlier this week West’s defense team laid out details of the dispute between the two men.  Employees at the school testified that West was concerned about the confrontations with Combs. The school’s principal, Tori Giddens, took the stand to tell jurors that West was stressed and worried and that he thought the situation with Combs was getting worse.

While on the stand, West testified that he shot Combs in self-defense fearing for his life.

After deliberating for approximately seven hours on Thursday jurors acquitted West of first-degree murder and all of the lesser included charges.

West, who earlier rejected a manslaughter plea deal,  was released from custody shortly after his acquittal.