Suspect in 4 Georgia deaths is killed in shootout with police, 2 officers wounded
Jul 16, 2023, 5:36 PM
(Courtesy of Hampton Police Department via AP)
HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Officers on Sunday shot and killed a man wanted in four weekend killings near Atlanta during an exchange of gunfire, with a sheriff’s deputy and a police officer wounded while trying to take the suspect into custody, authorities said.
Officials said Andre Longmore was shot during an intense manhunt for the 40-year-old suspect. The exchange of gunfire came a day after Saturday morning’s shootings rocked a bucolic subdivision in Hampton, south of Georgia’s main city.
Officials said Longmore was killed about 15 miles (25 kilometers) to the north of Hampton in suburban Jonesboro. A Henry County sheriff’s deputy and a Clayton County police officer were injured at separate locations in the attempt to arrest Longmore, they said.
One officer was shot in the back and was taken by helicopter to an Atlanta trauma center, Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett said. “He is conscious, breathing and talking at this time,” Scandrett said of that officer.
Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Turner said both officers are expected to recover.
Hampton Police Chief James Turner said the four killed Saturday were all residents of the same Dogwood Lakes neighborhood where Longmore lived, and were all were shot within a 10-minute span. He identified the victims as 67-year old Scott Leavitt and his wife, 66-year old Shirley Leavitt, as well as 65-year-old Steve Blizzard and 66-year-old Ronald Jeffers.
Sherry Wyatt, who works at Hampton’s recreation center near Jeffers’ home, said Jeffers would regularly come in to sing at the senior center that shares the building.
A few months ago, Jeffers came over to her side of the building to practice and she told him how beautiful was his voice.
“I’m just so glad I told him he sang like an angel,” said Wyatt, adding her heart was heavy Sunday over his death. “I know he is in heaven now singing.”
A relative of Blizzard didn’t immediately respond to a Facebook message.
Authorities had been seeking to arrest Longmore on four murder warrants for the deaths. Turner said Longmore’s motives remained under investigation.
On Sunday, neighbor Frankie Worth told The Associated Press he heard a gunshot Saturday morning as he was reaching for his living room window to open the blinds and see how much yard work he had to do.
Worth said he ducked “just for a second” and then looked back out the window. “You know, when you get incoming, you’ve got to know where it’s coming from,” said Worth, who identified himself as a Marine Corps veteran.
Longmore, who Worth knew only as Andre, was standing in the middle of the street. Worth said he saw the man’s hands jerking from the recoil of firing a silver handgun.
Worth said the man appeared to have fired at a small white car being driven by another neighbor, “an older white gentleman.” He said the shooting happened on the edge of a cul-de-sac where they all live.
Worth said he first thought there’d been a road rage confrontation, but said the man moved deliberately. “He didn’t appear angry, upset, agitated,” Worth said.
Worth said Longmore appeared to evaluate whether he needed to shoot again and then “started walking casually” toward the entrance to the subdivision, then at a “brisk stride.” Worth said he ran upstairs, watching Longmore disappear behind some trees as he called police.
Police said that after the shootings, Longmore fled in a black GMC Acadia SUV stolen from Blizzard.
Turner told reporters Saturday that detectives were investigating at least four crime scenes in Dogwood Lakes. At least three police cars staked out the neighborhood Sunday, limiting access. About 40 houses on two streets flank a lake in the neighborhood, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of downtown Atlanta.
Ron Foster, who lives on the main road outside the subdivision entrance, said Longmore drove through his yard and his neighbor’s yard, destroying multiple ornamental windmills and leaving tire tracks still visible in the grass a day later. Foster was inside his house at the time.
“What was going through that man’s mind after he did all he done?” Foster wondered. “It was unreal.”
Foster didn’t know at the time that multiple people had been shot, but said he got a call from a friend who is a retired police officer.
“He called me and said ‘Ron, y’all stay in or go somewhere,'” Foster said “We did.”
Hampton is home to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Georgia’s racetrack for NASCAR events. The most recent homicide before Saturday in the town of 8,000 had been in 2018, Turner said. “It’s not normal for us,” he said.
The shootings marked the 31st mass killing of 2023, taking the lives of at least 153 people this year, according to a database maintained by The AP and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University.
Hampton Mayor Ann Tarpley said the city would hold a prayer vigil Monday evening for the four victims and their loved ones.
“We have their back and we will continue to support them throughout their bereavement,” Tarpley said.
Associated Press writers Tom Murphy contributed from Indianapolis and Leah Willingham contributed from Charleston, West Virginia.