Jones County man charged with shooting Bibb man in head

A Jones County man was arrested Thursday in connection with what authorities are calling the climax in an ongoing disagreement between him and one family.

Early Willis Sr., 59, of Patterson Road, is accused by authorities of shooting Antonio Smith, 44, in the head about 4:15 p.m. Thursday outside a residence in the 3300 block of Will Hall Boulevard.

Smith was rushed by ambulance to The Medical Center of Central Georgia after authorities stopped his wife’s speeding vehicle near the Lucky Food Mart on Jeffersonville Road.

Bibb County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Smallwood said Willis and Smith began to argue in the street after Smith came to the neighborhood with his wife to check on their son’s automobile, which was being worked on at a friend’s home garage.

Last fall, Willis was charged with attempting to shoot the Smiths' son and he had recently bonded out of jail on multiple gun charges in connection with the incident, Smallwood said.

When Willis encountered the husband and wife Thursday, a second altercation ensued.

The couple attempted to leave the scene, but they were followed and shot at instead, according to authorities.

The gunman was arrested shortly after the incident.

He remained in custody at the Bibb County jail late Thursday without bond and charged with criminal attempt to commit murder.

His previous charges include aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, authorities said.

Sheriff’s investigators said they recovered the black Hi-Point semi-automatic handgun authorities believe Willis used in the shooting inside his red and white Ford F-150 pickup.

Outside the Lucky Food Mart, where Willis sat Thursday afternoon in the back of a parked patrol car, his crying wife and a group of relatives stood nearby — not far from a bloodstained blue shirt paramedics had removed from Smith’s body and discarded on the ground.

Sam Preston, whose mother lives in the neighborhood, said he was walking up Finneydale Drive toward the convenience store when he heard at least three gunshots.

Preston said Smith was covered in blood but was conscious when he was taken to the hospital.

He remained in stable condition late Thursday, Smallwood said.

The incident remains under investigation by the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347.