It wasn’t long after Pastor Lillie Mae Powell of Danville’s God Power Church of Christ delivered her Thanksgiving Day sermon -- a message, she says, of how “we’ve got to show love” -- that the shooting started.
It was going on 1:30 Thursday afternoon and her congregation had just raised $25 for a neighborhood woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Powell was about to march down First Street and present the offering.
But, she says, some young men who live nearby in the eastern Twiggs County town of about 350 showed up outside. Powell says they confronted her two grandsons as 15 or so churchgoers, some toting babies, were heading home for turkey dinner.
Then ... gunshots.
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“It was worser than the Wild West,” a woman in her 50s who lives up the street recalled Friday. “Sounded like bombs going off.”
Authorities say the parties had a running feud, “kind of like a turf battle,” Twiggs sheriff’s Chief Deputy Billy Boney said.
Powell, 88, who lives in Macon, says her grandsons, also from Macon, joined her to worship in Danville on Thursday “because I wanted them to get saved.”
It was some other guys, the troublemakers, Powell says, who fired first and got shot themselves when her grandsons retaliated.
Investigators said, however, that as best they can tell Powell’s grandsons were the only ones with guns, and that one of the grandsons, Brandon Reeves, 26, may have simultaneously fired two pistols during the onslaught that wounded two and left a trailer behind the church riddled with bullet holes.
Brandon Reeves was armed with a 9mm handgun when he was arrested Thursday after briefly barricading himself in a nearby house, Boney said. The 26-year-old Reeves was being held at the Twiggs jail on aggravated assault charges.
His brother, Ryan Reeves, 20, remained at large Friday afternoon and was being sought in connection with Thursday’s gunplay that injured a pair of Danville teens, Boney said.
“About a year ago they had this same kind of situation down there at that same church,” Boney said. “Somebody rode by somebody and (mouthed off). And then the next thing you know, ... we’re having a damn shootout in the middle of town.”
The chief deputy added there was “no rhyme or reason for some of this.”
The wounded teens, who Boney says were struck by bullets as they fled the church parking lot, were identified as Vashon Jones, 19, shot in the buttocks, and Edward Stanley III, 18, shot in the back. Jones and Stanley were taken to area hospitals. Their injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
The God Power Church of Christ sits at the corner of First and Walnut streets, just up from the railroad tracks that split Danville north of U.S. 80. The town lies about two miles due north of Interstate 16, half an hour or so southeast of Macon.
Powell, the preacher, says her grandson Ryan Reeves, sought on aggravated assault charges, had played the keyboard at Thursday’s service and that she hadn’t seen him since the shooting when “the gang boys,” as she called them, arrived.
“I don’t know why they come to the church,” said Powell, whose Danville congregation meets every other Sunday. “I thought that was something getting my grandchildren in the house of God on Thanksgiving Day and make them know to show love.”
She says it was the other young men who were “raising the devil.”
“They’re the ones that started picking,” Powell said. “We ain’t bothering nobody.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.