Man who allegedly shot gay bar patron ‘not competent’ for trial

The 47-year-old felon charged with harassing and then shooting a man leaving a gay Atlanta bar – and a separate shooting weeks earlier – was declared mentally incompetent and won't face a criminal trial anytime soon.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Todd Markle ordered the case against Elijah Payton (photo) to be put on hold until officials with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities tell him Payton is mentally competent to stand trial.

"Based on a review of the psychiatrist’s report, the case file and input from the parties, the court concurs with the psychiatrist's findings and concludes that the defendant is not competent to stand trial at this time," Markle wrote in his Dec. 5 order.

Payton allegedly sexually harassed a group of five men before and after they left Bulldogs on Oct. 9. Police said Payton followed the men to a nearby parking garage. When he allegedly pulled a gun, all but two of the men fled. Payton then allegedly ordered those two to strip off their clothes and he shot one of them when they tried to run. Atlanta police arrested Payton on Oct. 12.

Payton is also charged with attacking a man on Sept. 16 near the intersection of 11th Street and Peachtree Walk. As the two men struggled, Payton pulled a gun and shot the man in his left thigh, Atlanta police said.

Payton remains in the Fulton County Jail facing nine charges related to the two shootings – two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, two counts of possession of a firearm by convicted felon, possession of a knife during commission of a felony, and two probation violations.

A grand jury indicted Payton on Oct. 20 on seven charges relating to the two shootings. The indictment said the Oct. 9 shooting "did maliciously cause bodily harm to [the victim] by rendering his kidney useless."

On May 23, Atlanta police arrested Payton and charged him with carrying a weapon without a valid license and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was released from jail on July 11 after pleading guilty as a first offender.

Prosecutors recommended that Payton be sentenced to five years in jail, but a judge sentenced him to probation. Two months later, he allegedly shot a man and weeks after that, allegedly attacked and shot a man outside the Peachtree Street gay bar.