The GBI is investigating after a Crawford County murder suspect was involved in a shootout with Monroe County sheriff’s deputies.
Kenneth Hutcheson, 55, was found dead by a family member in the front yard of his Byron home at 551 Berlyn Drive early Friday.
Hutcheson’s alleged killer, 58-year-old Thomas Gary Palmer, of Lizella, was about 25 miles away in Bolingbroke by the time Crawford County sheriff’s deputies got to the scene of the killing about 9 a.m.
Deputies learned Palmer had been dropped off near Klopfer and Harrison roads, so they searched the area and found him nearby at Gregg Rice Waterproofing Inc.
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Palmer opened fire on the deputies with a handgun and three Monroe County sheriff’s deputies returned fire, according to the news release. Palmer dropped his gun, but pulled out a hidden second one as deputies tried to detain him.
Christopher Tolen, a welder for KBW Industrial, which is near the crime scene, told The Telegraph he helped detain Palmer.
“The officers and the suspect came around the corner and they tackled him,” Tolen said. “That’s when I jumped over the fence and helped them hold the suspect down until they got more deputies here and the ambulance showed up.”
According to the news release, at about the same time deputies arrived at Hutcheson’s home, a woman in Bolingbroke at a Marathon gas station on U.S. 41 reported she had been kidnapped, telling deputies she had witnessed one man shoot another man earlier that morning in Crawford County, according to a news release from the Monroe Country Sheriff’s Office.
It was not immediately known how or when the woman escaped or was freed. And it wasn’t clear who kidnapped her.
The GBI is investigating both the homicide and the alleged kidnapping. As of Friday night, Palmer had not been formally charged.
GBI Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson told The Telegraph that Palmer had been involved in an argument with Hutcheson about 7 a.m. and that a possible history of domestic disputes between the men was being investigated.
The officer-involved shooting occurred less than a mile from the house on Haley Lane where Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Norris was shot and killed while responding to a call about a suicidal man in 2014.