Family of accused Dooly Co. shooter: GBI needs to investigate more
BYROMVILLE, Ga. -- The family of Willie Merrell -- who is accused of firing the shots that killed two people and himself in Dooly Co. on Jan. 25 -- spoke out Thursday evening, asking GBI to investigate more thoroughly and reconsider its conclusion.
GBI held a press conference Monday, saying its investigation shows the 60-year-old neighbor shot and killed an infant, a 47-year-old woman and himself in the early morning hours of Jan. 25. They say he also shot a 17-year-old, who suffered critical injuries.
The incident happened at a Byromville home on Hill Street. GBI says Merrell then walked across the street to the yard of his home and shot and killed himself.
Thursday in Byromville, Merrell's brother said: "My brother will not be labeled as a murderer -- especially when he was a giver to the community."
Merrell's brother said the investigation hasn't been given enough time, adding that deputies and GBI need to "re-look" at the evidence.
"We're asking for you (GBI) to do your job," he said. " You have not provided us answers. ...We don’t believe this. You have yet to show us the truth."
Key evidence in the GBI's findings was a rifle found next to Merrell with only his DNA on the weapon. Merrell's brother said the family doesn't believe he owned a rifle.
"All that’s a lie," he said. "You need to go beyond your DNA test, beyond a rifle that was found by my brother."
"I’m not discrediting [GBI]. I’m just saying that it’s not enough," he added.
A vigil was held for the fatal victims -- including Merrell -- on Feb. 1 prior to GBI's accusation. Merrell's funeral took place last Saturday at first Salem Baptist Church in Montezuma.
"It’s sad you had to tell us two days after we laid him to rest that he’s a murderer," Merrell's brother said. "Show us how you’ve come to your conclusion. ...There’s a lot of contradicting that’s took place."
WGXA spoke with Byromville residents as recently as Tuesday, who said they were stunned by the GBI's findings that Merrell is the shooter.
"He was a man of the community," Merrell's brother said. "I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body. ...Happy go-lucky guy."
WGXA is attempting to reach GBI for comment.