Portage man pleads not guilty in death of neighbor

 A Portage man charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the death of his neighbor was bound over for trial after pleading not guilty today in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Calvin C. Eldridge, 49, is accused of fatally shooting his neighbor, Victor B. Reynolds, 54. after the two men got into a scuffle May 4 in the apartment building where they both lived.

For more go to WKOW: http://www.wkow.com/story/38186095/2018/05/14/police-man-seriously-hurt-after-fight-leads-to-shooting-in-portage


PORTAGE (WKOW) -- A Portage man was charged with second-degree reckless homicide during a court hearing Monday in connection with the death of his neighbor.

Victor B. Reynolds, 54, died following a scuffle with Calvin C. Eldridge, 49, according to the Portage Police Department.

Eldridge, 49, also was charged Monday with recklessly endangering safety and faces a $15,000 bail.

Eldridge's attorney argued in court that Eldridge has no criminal history and has a claim to self defense.In a cell phone recording by a witness shared with 27 News, the men can be heard shouting at each other, and a short time later there's a single gun shot.  Eldridge's wife, Julieann Eldridge then says, "He defended himself."

The Portage Police Department says its officers were called to a home in the 2800 block of Village Road about 5 p.m. Monday, May 7, 2018.

The men live in the same building and have have a history of disputes, according to Portage police.

Police Lieutenant Daniel Garrigan says Eldridge has a state-issued, concealed carry permit.

Garrigan says Reynolds was shot in the lower leg, and was able to talk to responding officers.  Garrigan says both Reynolds and Garrigan had other injuries from the fight. According to the criminal complaint against Eldridge, medical examiners say "...the gun shot damaged the popliteal artery in victim's leg."Prior to Reynolds' condition developing into a life-threatening situation, Garrigan says authorities planned to recommend a charge of substantial battery against him. Police officials say the men have fought in the past over issues such as the playing of loud music, and the slamming of doors.

"This was a situation that started over something foolish and just escalated out of control,"  Garrigan says.

Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey says even though Eldridge's criminal record is clean, there was a recent troubling event.  "Just two weeks ago, he showed the weapon and threatened to shoot another person."

Kohlwey also says Eldridge can be heard in the recording stating he would escalate to deadly force if punched again. 

Eldridge's attorney, Nick Rifelj attempted Monday to contrast Eldridge's lack of a criminal history with Reynolds' criminal past, but was cut off by a successful objection from Kohlwey.  Reynolds had a pending, third offense drunk driving case at the time of his death.The criminal complaint states  Eldridge maintains Reynolds took an extra magazine from his holster and hit him in the head with it.  Kohlwey says there were thirty-two rounds in Eldridge's gun, and authorities say Eldridge concedes he also hit Reynolds in the head.  The complaint says Eldridge states he believes Reynolds was going for his gun.

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