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Man shot, killed in Flowery Branch

2 men arrested, questioned in connection with case

POSTED: December 25, 2013 11:00 a.m.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office officials said a Christmas Day killing of a Flowery Branch man was a homicide.

Authorities, however, have not released the victim’s identity or age.

"We believe that there will be (a) murder (charge)," sheriff’s office Enforcement Bureau head Maj. John Latty said while standing outside the home in the 6700 block of River Hill Drive in Flowery Branch.

Crime scene analysts gathered and processed clues after obtaining a search warrant for the South Hall home a little before 4 p.m. Wednesday. The man’s body was found in the home’s backyard following a 911 call in the morning.

Latty said authorities believe the man was killed in the backyard.

Two men found inside the home were later arrested and being questioned in connection with the incident. The sheriff’s office is keeping their identities confidential but noted the men’s ages are in the 50s and 20s, respectively.

"They are in custody, and that’s a part of the investigation — interviews," Latty said.

Latty said investigators believe the men in custody were related to the victim.

"It’s not entirely clear yet, but we do believe they were related, and this may have been their residence," Latty said. "There’s still a little bit of confusion for us on how they’re related."

Investigators interviewed neighbors and first responders — including the deputies who responded to a 911 hang-up call — to find out how and why the man was killed. Investigators said they believe a gunshot wound killed the victim, although a medical examiner will perform an autopsy and determine an official cause of death, Latty said.

Jane Jones, a longtime resident on the block, said she heard gunshots at about 9 a.m.

Jones said the family in question had lived there a couple of years, although she did not know them well.

"They were real nice people as far as I knew," she said. "The man was always nice."

As the police began to show up, she said she knew something was amiss.

"It was kind of scary because I didn’t know what was going on and I had my (two) grandkids here," she said.

Belinda Heard, who lives across the street, said she had a house full of family and was cooking a Christmas ham. She had retreated to the back porch when she heard shots.

"There’s never been anything like this since I’ve been here," she said. "I heard, ‘pow, pow.’ Then, ‘pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.’ I thought it was fireworks in another subdivision."

Heard said she believed a father and his disabled son lived at the home.

Police were called to the home after the sheriff’s office received a 911 hang-up call, sheriff’s office public information officer Sgt. Mark Mitchell said in a news release.

At 9:30 a.m., deputies responded to the home and spoke with a man at the door. The man told deputies another man — also inside the home — made the call, Mitchell said. When deputies asked to speak with the caller, the man closed the door and refused to let the officers inside.

The deputies sensed a threat, Latty said.

"The demeanor of the man that the officer encountered led (deputies) to believe that he was armed and he was a threat, so they secured the scene," he said. "The man walked inside the house and locked the door behind him. So that’s why the SWAT team came out; (the men) would not come outside."

The Hall County SWAT team negotiated with the two men via phone and bullhorn. Both suspects surrendered and were arrested.

Authorities searched the home and found no other victims.

The incident remains under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division of the sheriff’s office.


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