COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The Bartow County Sheriff's Office confirms it got a call from the family of a murder suspect shortly before the killing of a mall security guard.
The family said they had received suicidal text messages from 23-year-old Richard Holcomb. According to Cobb police, Holcomb shot and killed Town Center Mall security guard Zakeem Berry before he drove to an Acworth Kroger and killed himself.
Cobb investigators are not releasing much information about the killing that happened around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, but Bartow deputies said after they received the worried phone call from Holcomb's family, they tracked Holcomb's cellphone to the Kroger and alerted Cobb police.
Brandon Barker works at a restaurant across the street from Town Center Mall. He said he was standing out on the deck when he saw Berry's patrol car making its rounds. Moments later, he said he heard the shot.
"I came out on the patio, and you see the (security) car over there. Looks like he made a round or something, checking his post," said Barker. "And after that, lights off. Heard a pop. Had no idea what's going on. Next thing I know, there's ten cop cars, three fire trucks and two ambulances."
Berry's friends said he was from Maryland and may have recently moved to metro Atlanta.
Carolyn Avery works at another nearby restaurant and had been in the parking lot just a hour before the shooting.
"It literally hit close to home," said Avery. "I've lived in this area for a long time, and that could've been anybody."
In a written statement, Town Center Mall officials said, "we are deeply saddened by this tragic event, and our sincere condolences go out to the family of the security officer involved in this incident. Mall management is working closely with the Cobb County Police to share any details that may assist in the investigation of this senseless crime that is extremely shocking to all of us."