House fire follows fatal shooting in Macon

A house burned early Wednesday morning in Macon’s Village Green neighborhood just six hours after three teenagers were shot, one of them fatally.

A man and woman who lived at 2696 Village Green Lane told police that 16-year-old Shamarques Watkins was in their yard with other boys when 18-year-old Tavish Faulks and 17-year-old Rodrion Gary arrived with pistols in their waistbands, according to a Macon police report.

A resident of the home told the teens to leave, and Faulks began shooting about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to the report.

When police arrived, Gary was on his stomach in a nearby yard and Faulks was beside him with a gunshot wound on the right side of his head. Watkins was shot in the foot, according to the report.

Gary, of 2732 Village Green Lane, died Tuesday night after sustaining a fatal gunshot wound, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said. Gary was a Southwest High School student and had just celebrated his 17th birthday last Saturday, according to police.

Faulks, of Bloomfield Road, was in critical condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia on Wednesday with life-threatening gunshot wounds to the head and wrist. Watkins, of Brentwood Avenue, was treated and released from the hospital, Jones said.

Gary’s death marks the 11th homicide in Macon in 2010, Macon police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said.

Hours after the shooting, firefighters were called to the house. About 1:30 a.m., they found “heavy fire” shooting from the roof and front of the house, Macon-Bibb County fire investigator Ben Gleaton said.

“No one was at home at the time,” he said. “They were actually downtown at the detective bureau being interviewed about the shooting.”

Gleaton said the fire is suspicious and appears to have started in the living room. The house is considered a total loss.

“It’s being treated as a malicious fire,” he said.

Gleaton said he’s talking with witnesses as part of the investigation, and people are giving him information.

He collected evidence from the scene, but he would not disclose details about what was collected.

Police found a 19-inch TV and a damaged briefcase with assorted papers on the ground near the home, according to a police report.

Gleaton said authorities think the house was burglarized before the fire.

Gaudet said it’s “highly probable” that the fire and shooting are related.

Police investigators were still trying Wednesday to piece together details of chronology and how the shooting occurred, she said.

A small crowd of people was present at the time of the shooting, she said. No suspects have been identified.

“(Investigators) have taken many statements,” Gaudet said. “They will not make a determination based on one statement.”

Police are looking into the possibility of the shooting being gang-related, but the gang or gangs possibly involved are unknown, she said.

Officers have not found evidence of narcotics in the home or yard, and it doesn’t appear that the shooting was drug-related, Gaudet said.

Police Maj. Robert Grabowski was at the scene Wednesday as a police gun-sniffing dog canvassed the area for any weapons that might have been used in the crime.

Officers began sweeping the area about 2 p.m., searching the many boarded-up houses on the street.

“We don’t want any kids in the area finding a gun,” he said.

Many neighbors on the street weren’t eager to talk about the shooting or the fire, citing a fear of retaliation. They did say that gunfire is a daily occurrence.

“People ride by every day shooting guns,” said one man who wished to go unidentified because of safety concerns. “I heard what sounded like a machine gun shooting 50, 80 times. It was chaos is what it was.”

The neighbor said police don’t do a good job in cleaning up the area, instead harassing the people who live there.

“They can’t stop this,” the man said. “It’s gone too far.”

Clifford Scott, who lives a few houses down the street from the shooting, said he came back from church about 10 p.m. Tuesday to find the street blocked off.

Janice Hamlin, a Village Green neighborhood advocate, said police and the city in general have been ineffective.

“I told people something like this was going to happen,” she said. “It’s normal to hear gunshots around here every night. ... We don’t have police protection, and City Hall does nothing. We have to try to save ourselves.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 751-7500, Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at (877) 68-CRIME or Georgia’s Arson Hotline at (800) 282-5804.

Telegraph writers Liz Fabian, Carl Lewis and Phillip Ramati contributed to this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.