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Man killed exchanging gunfire with Hall County deputies
Suspect fired multiple rounds; no deputies injured in incident at Gainesville mobile home park
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Investigators gather along Ridgeway Drive Thursday, June 14, 2018, as they work a crime scene where Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies fatally shot a man after authorities say he opened fire on the officers. - photo by Scott Rogers

By Nick Watson and Layne Saliba

A California man was fatally shot by Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies after authorities say he opened fire on the officers.

Joseph Villaneuva, 29, was identified around 8 p.m. by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said 911 received a call around 6:40 a.m. Thursday, June 14, about a suspicious person armed with a gun at Ridgeway Mobile Home Park off of Skelton Road. Villanueva was reportedly walking between mobile homes, according to the GBI.

One deputy found Villanueva, who reportedly showed the deputy his gun and ran. 

GBI public affairs director Nelly Miles said Villanueva ran up a hill and “encountered a second deputy and charged towards this deputy with his gun pointed at him.”

“He pulled a gun and fired at deputies while he was running. We believe he fired multiple rounds at deputies,” Booth said.

Villanueva died at the scene. No deputies were injured in the incident.

All of the deputies on the call are now on paid leave pending the investigation.

Booth said three officers fired their service weapons.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

“Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be provided to the Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney for review,” Miles wrote in a news release.

Travis Abernathy has lived on the other end of Ridgeway Drive since 1964. He said he made his rounds to friends in the neighborhood on Thursday morning to see what was going on.

“My wife goes into work at 6 a.m., and I saw the fire trucks go by,” Abernathy said. “So it kind of got my curiosity. So I started walking my dog, and another buddy came up and said somebody had been shot. The police had shot him.”

A little farther down the road, Jose Chaves lives in a house with a driveway often used as a turn-around. He’s been there for eight years and said his daughter heard gunshots this morning. He said he heard shots on Wednesday night.

“Yesterday, I heard something,” Chaves said. “Maybe around 10 or 10:30 at night, somebody shot a big gun over there. I heard maybe three or four times.”

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Investigators arrive at Ridgeway Drive Thursday, June 14, 2018, where Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies fatally shot a man after authorities say he opened fire on the officers. - photo by Scott Rogers
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