28-year-old man killed in possible hate-motivated crime, robbery, police say

Witnesses told police a man shot and killed Ronald Peters after using an anti-gay slur and demanding Peters hand over his bag.

DECATUR, Ga. — Police in DeKalb County say they are investigating a man's slaying as a hate crime.

Witnesses told police a man shot and killed Ronald Peters after using an anti-gay slur and demanding Peters hand over his bag.

Channel 2's Lauren Pozen went to Peters' neighborhood along Orchard Circle and spoke with a witness who tried to help.

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“He didn’t deserve that,” neighbor Kevin Pickening said.

Pickening told Pozen he's lived on Orchard Circle for over 40 years and keeps an eye out for trouble.

Tuesday morning, he said he was on his porch and saw a maroon truck speeding down the street.

“You can see the outline of the sock hat that was pulled to here,” Pickening said. “You could see the eyes and then all you see is big smile.”

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At the same time, police say Peters was walking on the street to a nearby MARTA station.

Pickening said he saw the truck come back up his street.

“Swung the car, into this mailbox,” Pickening said.

He said one of the men in the truck demanded that Peters hand over his bag and then yelled an anti-gay slur at him.

“The driver jumped out with a mask on and you hear pop and he just locked up and fell over,” Pickening said. “The driver ran up to him, ‘I said give me the (expletive) bag,’ and shot him again.”

Police said Peters was shot in the neck and chest. Pickening told Pozen he called 911 and ran over to help, but it was too late. Police say Peters died at the hospital.

Pickening said he thinks the gunmen picked on an innocent man.

“I am not scared of them. I would love for them to try to talk to me. I can defend myself. He couldn’t do nothing,” Pickening said.

Detectives are working to identify the gunmen.

One of the neighbors has security cameras and police told Pozen they're reviewing that footage for leads.