GBI: Investigation shows 60-year-old man shot baby, woman, self to death in Dooly Co.
PINEHURST, Ga. -- The Dooly Co. Sheriff's Office and GBI held a press conference Monday evening, saying their investigation shows 60-year-old Willie Merrell was the shooter in the deaths of a baby, a woman and himself in late January.
The deadly shootings took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 25.
GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson said Merrell -- the neighbor -- fired the shots that killed 47-year-old Priscilla Adams, 17-month-old Jashun Ingram and left a 17-year-old in the hospital.
Ingram and Adams --the baby's caregiver -- were found near each other in their Hill St. front yard. Merrell was found dead across the street.
Ricketson says Merrell shot and killed himself after walking across the street to his backyard following the shootings.
"Wille James Merrell fired five rounds from a 30-caliber rifle," Ricketson said. "He then fired that weapon one more time, taking his own life."
Ricketson said the investigation conclusions will now be submitted to the district attorney.
Elaborating on the investigation conclusions, Ricketson said the rifle found at the scene was within arms reach of Merrell. Also, all shell casings collected were from the same weapon and Merrell's DNA was found on the rifle.
"A great deal of physical evidence was collected and submitted to our crime lab," Ricketson said.
Ricketson said they do not know the motive behind Merrell's shootings.
"In this case, the 'why?' is with Mr. Merrell," he said. "Unfortunately, that's no longer able for us to get to. There's a lot of theories that are going around in the community. But we have to stick to the facts."
Some Byromville residents are having a difficult time processing the new information from the GBI.
Christian Canales, who lives near Byromville, said “Man I don’t think he killed him, GBI has got to be wrong on that one. That guy was like you’d always catch him in Montezuma running through here selling fruit or whatnot. Nice guy, I don’t think he did that, man.”
Dooly County residents need healing now, a task that Sheriff Craig Peavy takes upon himself.
“Right now my job is to do all I can to help Byromville heal, help Dooly County heal. Whatever we can do to make that happen. But there’s no good ending to this story," he said.