BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - Family members of one of the victims of a Bartow County shooting rampage say a trivial dispute led to the gunfire.
Although many in the neighborhood, including the sheriff, suspect drugs were behind the violent shooting spree, one of the victim's sisters told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt that her paralyzed brother said it all started when the suspect claimed he'd spiked their drinks with a drug.
"The kid was bragging about putting something in his drink, and he said something to him, and when he said something to him that's when he lashed out on everybody,” said Beth Thacker.
Police said the kid was 20-year-old Austin Tyler, Investigators said he shot Steven Teitsort in the neck and leg, then shot another man in the stomach. Teitsort told his sister from the hospital the man who died, 65-year-old Royce "Pops" Hobgood, had tried to come to Teitsort’s defense.
"He said Pops took up for him, and when he took up for him that's when he up and point-blank shot and killed him,” said Thacker.
Neighbors, in the meantime, heard the shots and the screams and hid their children.
"I put them in the closet and locked all the doors,” said neighbor Sarah Hardeman. “That's what the lady on 911 told me to do, is lock all the doors and have the kids hide somewhere because I didn't know where the gunman was at."
The gunman, deputies said, fled the home, shooting at others during his getaway. Police said he then wounded a man at another home, before carjacking a grandfather, wrecking that pickup, then shooting himself.
Friends told Cavitt that Tyler had a well-known problem with drugs. His social media account shows him flashing a big gun with the caption, "This ain't what you want."
Thacker told Cavitt that although the talk in Bartow County is that the shooting was over drugs, her brother's tests came back clean.
“To know that my brother was clean, he had nothing in his system, why him? It’s not fair,” said Thacker.