The two men didn’t get into a fight or even speak to each other before they left Branch House Tavern, according to a manager. But what happened after they left is less certain, except that one was shot dead.
Donald Lee Battle Jr., 26, of Buford was killed in the incident at 2 a.m. Saturday across the street from the business near the intersection of McEver and Jim Crow roads.
“Some of them were here for at least an hour or so playing pool and hanging out, having a good time,” tavern manager Ryan Battles said. “And then somehow once they left, something happened between them, and the rest is history.”
Battles said the victim was with another man, and the man who shot him was with a woman, possibly his girlfriend. All of them were leaving the tavern as it closed. Patrons often park in the area where the shooting happened, Battles said.
Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller said “the relevant parties have been identified.” The Flowery Branch Police Department is handling the investigation and the GBI also was involved.
Miller did not refer to anyone as a suspect. Battles referenced the men “shooting at each other.” Based on accounts from other staff members at the tavern, Battles said it didn’t seem the shooter was injured and “he even spoke with 911 dispatch.”
The men’s movements inside the tavern and some of what happened outside were caught on surveillance video, Battles said.
“They definitely were in very close proximity to each other,” he said. “At one point, even at the very end of the night, they walked right by each other without even acknowledging each other.”
Battles said neither of the men appeared intoxicated.
The shooting itself was not caught on video, Battles said. He also did not see it. He had left work already but came running back after it happened.
Battles added that both men were probably in their mid-20s and the not the typical clientele of the tavern, which tends to serve an older set.
“We’re generally a really calm place, so it’s kind of been a whirlwind for us,” Battles said, adding that Flowery Branch Police are often customers there and tavern workers are cooperating fully.
He also noted that Flowery Branch is generally a small, quiet town, where this sort of thing doesn’t happen.
“My thoughts and prayers go to that young man’s family,” Battles said. “I just hate to hear that happens to anybody, even it if was a self-defense or whatever they may say it is, I don’t know — it’s just sad to hear. Our thoughts and prayers are with all parties involved.”