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Grand jury indicts man on attempted murder charges in pair of shootings
Willie Joe Moran.jpg
Willie Joe Moran

A Hall County grand jury charged a Gainesville man Thursday with three counts of attempted murder in two separate Jan. 23 shootings at a Jesse Jewell Parkway restaurant and outside a Marlow Drive home.

Willie Joe Moran, 24, is accused of shooting at two people at the Huddle House and then two people in a vehicle at Marlow Drive less than 30 minutes later, according to authorities..

According to the indictment, Moran is accused of shooting at Michael Benham, 60, at the Huddle House in the arm and torso.

In the aggravated battery count, Moran allegedly shot “the floor around Benham with a handgun, causing injuries due to shrapnel.”

Moran also allegedly chased Shekeria Thompson “with a handgun causing her to fall and break her arm,” an injury that required surgery. Moran also allegedly fired shots at her in the restaurant as well as “firing shots as she fled the restaurant, placing her in fear of receiving immediate serious bodily injury and death.”

Huddle House
A police officer stands at the entrance to the Huddle House at 1920 Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville on Wednesday night after an armed robbery.

Benham was shot in the arm and abdomen as Moran came “around cabinets and (shot) at Benham multiple times while Benham was prone on the floor,” according to the warrants.

The investigator also said Moran stood over Benham’s motionless body and pointed the gun at him, according to the warrants.

The counter, wall and floor were damaged by gunfire in excess of $500, according to the indictment.

Regarding Marlow Drive, the grand jury charged Moran with criminal attempt to commit murder as to Yanira Smith-Rodriguez, 37, and Darvis Peterson, 23.

Smith-Rodriguez was shot in the face while sitting in a car with Peterson on Marlow Drive, authorities said.

The gunshots to Smith-Rodriguez’s face caused a “shattered jaw, (a) mutilated tongue, loss of teeth and (a fractured chin),” according to the warrants.

Authorities said Peterson was not injured.

Smith-Rodriguez was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and is expected to survive.

Authorities have not said how the shootings are related or what connection, if any, there is between victims. In fact, Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said, “They don’t believe that our victim, Smith-Rodriguez, and the guy that was in a vehicle with her when the shooting occurred — they don’t believe they were intended targets,” Booth previously told The Times.

Moran is also accused of shooting at a Hyundai Elantra belonging to Smith-Rodriguez as well as a Jeep Compass.

Attorney Larry Duttweiler did not return a request for comment.

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