A former deputy shot and killed his ex-wife and wounded the Habersham County sheriff and a deputy in an ambush Sunday night at a Clarkesville home, authorities said.
The suspect, Anthony Giaquinta, 41, died, possibly from gunshots from a Habersham deputy, GBI Deputy Director of Investigations Rusty Andrews said. Authorities have not named that deputy.
Officials transferred Giaquinta’s body to the state crime lab to determine whether the fatal gunshot was self-inflicted or from law enforcement.
Officers responding to what was initially a domestic dispute call arrived Sunday around 7:30 p.m. at the Clarkesville home and found the suspect’s ex-wife, Kathy Smith Giaquinta, dead in the garage, according to the GBI.
Authorities also said they believe Giaquinta killed his ex-wife’s close friend Steven Thomas Singleton, 45, of Flowery Branch before law enforcement arrived at the scene. Singleton was found dead outside in the side yard of the home.
“We think it is a long-simmering domestic dispute that had been going on between Anthony Giaquinta and Kathy Giaquinta Smith,” Andrews said. “We do think it involves the personal relationship between the two of them and possibly her relationship with other people.”
Andrews said he did not know when Giaquinta and Smith divorced.
Habersham Sheriff Joey Terrell and Deputy Bill Zigen were injured in the incident and transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and treated. Zigen was still in the hospital Monday, but his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Authorities on Monday had blocked Upper Stair Street in the Winding Stair subdivision in Clarkesville as the investigation continued.
Andrews detailed the events at a news conference Monday in Decatur.
When Terrell and two deputies first arrived at the subdivision, a black Ford Crown Victoria came speeding toward them and spun out into a nearby yard. Giaquinta, who was driving, got out and ran into some nearby woods, Andrews said.
After failing to find Giaquinta, Terrell and his deputies talked to Giaquinta’s and Smith’s 16-year-old daughter, who had placed the 911 call.
She told investigators she and her boyfriend were at the house when her father arrived. A short time later, she said she saw her father with a gun and saw that her mother had been shot, Andrews said. She and her boyfriend left the house and called 911.
Giaquinta’s and Smith’s other daughter, who is 18 and in college, was not at the home.
Deputies went to the home where they found Smith dead on the garage floor.
Zigen stood guard outside the garage while the sheriff and the other deputy went inside the house. But Giaquinta had circled back to some woods near the house in what authorities are calling an ambush and fired at Zigen, hitting him twice.
As Terrell and the unnamed deputy ran to help, Giaquinta shot the sheriff, who wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest, in the bicep, Andrews said.
The unnamed deputy exchanged gunfire with Giaquinta.
Giaquinta was using a 9 mm Glock pistol, and no other weapons were found at the scene, Andrews said.
Andrews said he’s not aware of any bad blood between Giaquinta and the sheriff, but he said Giaquinta seems to have been disenchanted with law enforcement in general.
Giaquinta was a deputy with the Habersham sheriff’s office until he was fired June 15, 2013, in connection with a domestic violence arrest, according to Ryan Powell, Peace Officer Standards and Training Council operations director. Giaquinta worked for the Gainesville Police Department from September 2002 to October 2009, Powell said, before starting with Habersham the same month.
Giaquinta said nothing to the sheriff and his deputies, Andrews said.
Andrews said Terrell responded to the call because he was familiar with Giaquinta and the previous domestic violence allegations.
Giaquinta was never convicted on domestic violence charges and no restraining orders against him were in effect, Andrews said.