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Harbour Point rattled by tragedy
Residents say area has little crime
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Lisa Clark, who cleans a number of homes inside Harbour Point Yacht Club, said she was shocked at the violent crime that happened Monday night at the quiet upscale West Hall subdivision.

Harbour Point Yacht Club residents were searching for words Tuesday.

Their tranquil life by Lake Lanier was shattered late Monday, when one of their own — a Sunset Point Drive resident — is believed to have stabbed his mother to death, then seriously injured his aunt in a knife attack.

A trail of blood stains between driveways in the cul-de-sac serves as a gruesome reminder of the tragedy, which ended when Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies gunned down the blood-covered assailant.

"This was quite a shock," said Carol Baker, who lives two doors down from where John Pearce lived with his mother, Mary Pearce, "but I'm just one of those people that think you should be ready for everything."

She and her husband, who have lived in the upscale West Hall neighborhood since September 2007, were in their computer room when they heard a "real crisp, clear" gunshot.

"He looked out the window here and started saying, ‘Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness,' " Baker said. "He ran out of the room ... to the front door. I followed him. That's when I looked out and ... (deputies) just delivered the second shot.

"... I saw him when he was falling to the ground and he was writhing on the ground, completely naked."

John Pearce, 29, fell to his death at the curb in front of the Bakers' driveway.

"It was just very surreal," Baker said. "This is not the neighborhood you expect that in — it's just not."

Harbour Point opened in 1999 off Dawsonville Highway as a gated community developed by John Wieland Homes and Hardeman Properties.

The neighborhood features a clubhouse, marina, sidewalks and posh homes spread among hills overlooking Lake Lanier. Residents enjoy social gatherings, clubs and other activities.

"There are people here who feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked at night," Baker said. "This is Harbour Point — we don't have any crime here that we know of."

Lisa Clark cleans 26 homes in Harbour Point through her business, Clean Smart.

"We know everybody in here," she said.

Her business didn't clean the Pearce home but it does the home next to it.

"I didn't know them personally because we never cleaned there," said Clark, who lives in North Hall.

"But I do know this neighborhood, and I know everybody knows everybody. ... This is an excellent community."

The tragedy "is just too much to swallow," she added.

Jane Karnes, a Harbour Point resident who knows the aunt, Gretchan Pearce, said the incident "is just real tragic for our whole neighborhood, for anybody who has to go through that."

She added, "We just need to keep praying that Gretchan will get through this. ... It's going to be tough getting over it."

The Rev. Terry Walton, Gainesville First United Methodist Church's senior pastor, got a call about 10 p.m. Monday from a neighbor of the Pearces.

He headed straight to Atlanta Medical Center, where he met up with Gretchan's family. Gretchan and her husband, Charlie, are members of the church.

"We were relieved to see Gretchan was going to survive," Walton said.

The whole episode "is just one of those things that breaks your heart, when you see a situation where obviously (he) had some painful issues in his life ... and that pain came to the surface and just unleashed itself in a horribly violent way," he said.

"Your heart goes out to anybody who gets to this place of pain in their life ... and then forced a situation where police had to respond to him in a violent way. It's just a lose-lose (situation) and breaks your heart for everybody."

 

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