3 men enter home, kill man in front of child before running away, police say

BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. — Police are looking for the three men who they said committed a home invasion and shot a man in the head in front of a child.

Investigators said the men went up a driveway and forced their way into a Jackson home Wednesday around 9 p.m. Once inside, the men held everyone at gunpoint and made them get on the floor, according to police.

Moments later, Derek Denson, 40, was shot. He died the next day. The man's 23-year-old nephew and a 13-year-old girl with special needs were also in the home when the incident took place. Denson's nephew fought back before gunfire erupted.

"There was a physical assault that occurred of the second person that was in there but, again, he was not shot," Sheriff Gary Long said.

Those closest to Denson said he was a good man. They told Channel 2 Action News they desperately want those responsible for the crime behind bars.

"It’s a small town, you know. Everybody knows everybody so someone do know something," Lester Clark, the victim's cousin, said.

Clark said he and the rest of his family want answers.


"Derek was the kind of guy who was to himself, you know. He’s very quiet, smiled all the time and loved his family," Clark said.

Investigators said they're just as hopeful they will catch the men, because crimes like this don't happen often in the area.

Denson grew up in Jackson and his family is very involved in the community.

"It's sort of an unreal situation, you know. My family is well-known here. I'm very active in the community and we do a lot. My family do a lot here. We have a lot of ministers in this family so it's kind of hard," Clark said.

Long said he and his deputies have been going from door to door looking for any clues, so they can identify the shooter.

"Oh, as far as community safety is concerned, public assistance is absolutely necessary," Long said.

The family members are taking the murder hard, especially since their mother was shot and killed in 2010 in Jackson. They said her murder, a domestic situation, still feels fresh.

"We’re going through this all over again, so it's really taking a toll on (the family)," Clark said.

Long is offering a $5,000 reward and CrimeStoppers added another $2,000 for any information that leads to an arrest.

"Any rumor, any bit of information the Butts County Sheriff's Department is asking for you to give us a call. We're asking for anything. A small thing can always lead to a resolve in the case," Long said.

If you have any information, you are urged to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477).