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Suspect charged in shooting of 2 women Friday

Church window broken, blood evident at scene of possible escape

POSTED: August 16, 2014 3:55 p.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Friday's shooter allegedly broke out this window at First Congregational Holiness Church on Chestnut Street during his attempt to escape police. Antwan Xavier Earls, 24, was arrested in the church parking lot and taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with a visible cut to his arm.

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Gainesville police have charged a Gainesville man in the Friday shooting of two women at Atlanta Street Apartments.

Antwan Xavier Earls, 24, of Gainesville was arrested Friday and charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

The women, whose names have not yet been released by police, were taken by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. One is believed to be in critical condition after being shot in the upper torso.

Gainesville Police responded to the scene shortly before 3 p.m. Friday.

Earls was the lone gunman, according to a Gainesville Police news release, and the victims were targeted by the shooter.
A large crowd gathered around the two injured women when police arrived. After hearing six shots, neighborhood resident Irene Lipscomb rushed outside.

“By the time we ran out, we could see them on the ground,” she said.

Stirring her cereal Saturday morning, resident Shirley Harrison of Atlanta Street Apartments eats breakfast outside of her apartment a few feet from the shooting scene.

“I’ve seen people get killed here in the past, but now it’s just rising back up,” she said.

With her Bible tucked into an empty flower pot, Harrison said she enjoys reading scripture outside of her apartment. In difficult times, she prays for the end of the violence in this area.

“The devil has been busy,” Harrison said.

Gainesville Police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said Earls was arrested May 6 for simple battery and criminal trespass.

When fleeing the scene Friday, he is believed to have run through the back lot of the First Congregational Holiness Church, police said. Blood and shattered glass were found at the back window of the church that may have been broken during the escape.

“I don’t know how in the world he got all that out as well as he did. He busted that glass all to pieces,” First Congregational Holiness Church maintenance man Bill Oliver said Saturday.

Blood smears on the glass were seen Saturday when Oliver opened the church. He said he was called by police Friday to unlock the church doors during their investigation.

Earls was seen shirtless with a noticeable cut on his right forearm Friday after his arrest around 3:30 p.m.

“They said he was really bleeding bad, cut nearly to the bone,” Oliver said.

Inside the church, only tiny blood droplets can be seen on the carpet. Oliver said it is possible that Earls tied the shirt around his arm after he entered the church.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center officials said Earls was discharged Friday after being treated.



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