KATE BRUMBACK and JEFF AMY (Associated Press)
HAMPTON, Ga. (TodayNews) — The 40-year-old man who shot four people in the nation’s 31st mass murder this year has needed psychological help for nearly a decade, but his family and officials have been unable to force him to seek treatment. , his mother said.
Andre Longmore was walking through his neighborhood in the semi-rural suburb of Hampton, Georgia on Saturday and fatally shot four neighbors, all elderly. The killings sparked a massive search that ended Sunday with Longmore dying in a gun battle in another suburb about 15 miles (25 km) north of the Hamptons. A deputy sheriff and two police officers were injured in the shootout and are expected to recover.
In 2014, Longmore suffered a “mental breakdown” that led to hospitalization, his mother, Lorna Dennis, told WSB-TV Sunday.
She said her son’s condition “continued to deteriorate” but he refused to seek medical attention and that officials said they could not force him to seek medical attention.
“It’s hard to lose a son, and it’s also hard to realize that your son cost so many lives,” Dennis said.
She said that Longmore served in the army, lived with her in recent years, and that she hoped that the relatives of the victims could find peace with God.
“I have so much sympathy for the families and so I just want to say that I am very, very sorry. I know words can’t really comfort them from me at this time, but I know there is a comforter and they can refer to it at any time,” Dennis said.
The Army says Longmore was a sergeant and worked as an automated logistics specialist from August 2000 to May 2006, overseeing supplies and equipment. He was sent to Afghanistan, served under enemy fire and was a trained paratrooper, driver and mechanic.
Hampton Mayor Ann Tarpley announced Sunday that the city will hold a prayer vigil on Monday in memory of the four people who died in the city of 8,000 — Scott Leavitt, 67, and his wife, Shirley Leavitt, 66; Steve Blizzard, 65; and Ronald Jeffers, 66.
“Today it is about the victims of this tragic event,” Tarpley told reporters on Sunday. “It’s about their families and about society.”
All four lived in the same area as Longmore, where about 40 houses adjoin the lake on two streets about 25 miles (40 km) south of Atlanta. Police and witnesses say Longmore shot the four men in about 10 minutes on Saturday morning before stealing a Blizzard SUV and fleeing.
Residents of the Dogwood Lakes neighborhood were surprised to see gun violence spread to their peaceful neighborhood, where houses with manicured yards crowd around a small lake.
“I don’t want to say that it bothers me, but I understand that this can happen anywhere,” said Kevin Pugh, who lives next door to the house where the Leavitts lived for several years with his family. adult daughter and her small children. “Before Saturday, the most noise we had was because of Canada geese.”
Tom Hannegan has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years and is president of the homeowners association. He and his husband Donald Smith said the only crime they had ever heard of was a series of car break-ins about five years ago.
Hannegan said that Longmore attended a couple of association meetings with his mother a few years ago, but he didn’t really know him. Longmore occasionally rode around the neighborhood on an electric scooter or drove very slowly up and down dead-end streets.
“You could just say he was there for a bit,” Hannegan said. “He told people he was a prophet.”
The shooting was the 31st mass shooting in 2023, killing at least 153 people this year, according to a database maintained by AP and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Longmore was killed about 15 miles (25 km) north of the Hamptons in the suburb of Jonesboro. Clayton County Police said Deputy Henry County Sheriff saw the stolen SUV and began chasing him, calling for help.
The officers shot Longmore before he escaped and entered the backyard of the townhouse, bleeding and naked, and ran into the house to hide. According to witnesses and police, as the officers entered the townhouse, Longmore began shooting at the officers.
A Henry County Sheriff’s Deputy and two Clayton County police officers were injured while attempting to arrest Longmore, officials said. The deputy sheriff was shot in the back and had to undergo surgery. Both Clayton officers were released after receiving treatment for minor injuries.
Jeffers was remembered as a devoted member of his church. Sherri Wyatt, who works at the Hampton Recreation Center next to Jeffers’ home, said that Jeffers regularly came to sing at the senior center, which is in the same building.
A few months ago, Jeffers went to her side of the building to practice, and she told him what a beautiful voice he had.
“I’m so glad I told him he sang like an angel,” Wyatt said, adding that on Sunday her heart was heavy over his death. “I know he’s singing in heaven right now.”
Hannegan and Smith live a stone’s throw from the house that Blizzard has lived in since the unit was built in the 1990s. According to them, he was one of the few remaining original homeowners, he was vice president of the homeowners association and previously served as its president.
“He was just a nice guy,” Hannegan said, noting that Blizzard often helped clean or trim the bushes in the common areas.
Hampton is home to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Georgia’s competition track for NASCAR. The most recent murder before Saturday in the city of 8,000 took place in 2018, officials said.
Amy reported from Atlanta.