A McDonald’s worker reportedly murdered three women in a spree that began when he shot his mom and grandmother at their homes, before traveling to work to gun down his manager.
The suspect, who authorities have named as 26-year-old Kentavious White, subsequently took his own life in the restaurant in Moultrie, in the agricultural heartland of Georgia, early on Thursday morning.
The city, which is home to fewer than 15,000 people, has been left reeling. Chas Cannon, Colquitt County’s government administrator, told the Associated Press (AP): “A killing is pretty rare in our neck of the woods. It’s surprising.”
The gunman’s rampage began early in the morning, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), whose agents are working on the case. The bureau’s assistance was requested by Moultrie Police Chief Sean Ladson after a man and a woman were found shot to death at the McDonald’s at 506 1st Avenue at around 5:50 a.m.
While agents were still en route to the initial crime scene, Ladson called back two more times to report further shootings at neighboring homes in the 1100 block of 6th Street. One woman was found dead, while another was found alive and rushed to hospital, where she later died as a result of her injuries.
A statement released by the GBI on Thursday said: “The early investigation indicates that the suspected shooter is Kentavious White, 26, of Moultrie, GA […] At this point, GBI agents are now investigating deaths at three separate scenes.”
The slain McDonald’s manager has been identified as Amia Smith, 41, whose murder was captured by the restaurant’s security cameras. “After reviewing the surveillance footage, agents saw that White arrived at the restaurant, [and] got his manager, Amia Smith, to come to the door,” the GBI said. “White shot Smith, killing her. White is then seen entering the restaurant where he takes his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.”
George Suarez, owner and operator of the Moultrie branch of McDonald’s, said the restaurant will remain closed until further notice. “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved restaurant manager, and our hearts go out to all the victims of this senseless act of violence,” Suarez said in a statement.
The other two victims were White’s 50-year-old mother and 74-year-old grandmother, Colquitt County Coroner C. Verlyn Brock told the AP, although their names have not yet been publicly released. All three of the victims appeared to have been shot multiple times, Brock said, adding: “I can’t for the life of me figure out what provoked him [the suspect] in that way.”
Jerry Goodwin lives next door to the gunman and his mother, and two doors down from the grandmother. He told the AP that his wife heard shots fired before 1 a.m. on Thursday, while he was asleep, although it remains unclear whether police responded at that time. Goodwin also said that White had come outside shouting and had fired his gun earlier in the week, with police responding to that incident. But Goodwin added: “I had never seen him hurt anybody or try to hurt anybody before this.”
Moultrie resident Tanner Strickland paid tribute to the two women apparently murdered by their son and grandson. “Both of them were two of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of being around,” Strickland told WALB-TV. “They both light up any room that they walk into. Both of them really have hearts of gold.”
Newsweek has reached out to the GBI by email for further information and comment.
Anyone with information about White or the murders is encouraged to call the GBI Thomasville Field Office at 229-225-4090 or submit an anonymous tip at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477).
The incident came a day after one person was killed and four others were injured during a shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday. Deion Patterson, 24, was arrested following a manhunt, but Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock warned “nobody is safe” in the U.S. due to gun violence.