Gwinnett County

High school student killed at gas station; police search for shooter

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Police returned to the scene of a deadly shooting Monday afternoon, nearly 12 hours after a 15-year-old boy was killed outside a gas station in Gwinnett County.

The shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. at the corner of Thompson Mill Road and Pebblebrook Drive in Buford.

Police told Channel 2 Action News that two teens were hanging out outside the store when a man in his 20s approached the teens and shot one of them. Surveillance video from the gas station shows the teens moments before gunfire erupted.

The teen was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. He later died.

Gwinnett County police identified the victim as Branden Gerena, who attended Buford High School.

“We were able to get some surveillance video. That video showed the two males hanging out in front of the store for a period of time, and then they went out of view. A witness said a black male in his 20s approached them, and he is the person who fired the shot,” said Gwinnett Detective Chris Smith.


"He was a respectful young man. You know how teenagers are, but he never gave me no problem," neighbor Kenneth Felton said.

Felton lives right across the street from Gerena's family. He, like many people in his neighborhood, has more questions than answers about what led to the slaying of Gerena.

"You never know and it's right up under your nose what goes on around here," Felton said.

Earlier at the scene, there was a K-9 unit and Air-1 unit actively searching for the man. Police said he’s in his 20s, wearing blue jeans, a black jacket with red lettering and a baseball cap he was wearing backward.

Police are still trying to figure out a motive in the shooting.