Hours after an accused killer was arrested in a shootout with deputies, an illegal drug operation was discovered in his Macon home.
Thomas Gary Palmer, 58, of Bibb County, was formally charged with murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping after Kenneth Hutcheson, 55, was found shot to death Friday morning in front of his Berlyn Drive home in Crawford County.
Special Agent in Charge of the GBI’s Perry office, J.T. Ricketson said arrest warrants were signed late Friday after Palmer was taken into custody by Monroe County sheriff’s deputies in Bolingbroke.
Investigators also secured a search warrant for Palmer’s house on Burton Avenue in Macon and found illegal drugs Friday night, Ricketson said.
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“There was an indoor grow operation,” Ricketson said.
The GBI called in the drug unit of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
“They found a fairly decent quantity of marijuana and some suspected methamphetamine,” Bibb Sheriff David Davis said. “He had kind of a grow operation and had some packages ready to sell.”
As investigators scoured three crime scenes for evidence, more details emerged about what might have led to the fatal shooting and kidnapping in Crawford County and shootout with Monroe County deputies in Bolingbroke.
According to preliminary details, Palmer allegedly kidnapped a woman he had been romantically involved with, who was now seeing Hutcheson.
She reportedly witnessed Palmer shooting Hutcheson as he confronted the couple at about 7 a.m. Friday when they arrived at Hutcheson’s house, which has a Byron address in Crawford County.
Ricketson said some of those interviewed in the case said Hutcheson and the woman were planning to seek a restraining order against Palmer before the fatal confrontation.
A March 16 post on Palmer’s Facebook page apparently addresses the love triangle.
Ricketson said Palmer took the woman against her will and they drove off in Hutcheson’s vehicle, which was found in Monroe County and towed back to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
“At some point in Monroe County, she got away from him to make a phone call,” Ricketson said.
At about 9 a.m. Friday, deputies were called to the Marathon Gas Station in Bolingbroke to investigate the woman’s claims that she had been kidnapped after witnessing the shooting, according to a Monroe County sheriff’s news release.
Although no details were released on how the woman got to the gas station, deputies learned Palmer had been dropped off at Harrison and Klopfer roads.
A search began and when deputies located Palmer, he fired a handgun at three officers who returned fire.
Palmer dropped the gun, but pulled a second firearm as deputies tried to arrest him, said Joe Wooten, special agent in charge of the Milledgeville office of the GBI, which is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
“Two firearms were recovered,” Wooten said. “Once the guns were out of play, the deputy had to go hands on with him.”
They fought with Palmer, and took him into custody after he and the deputies were checked and cleared by EMS at the scene.
He also faces charges in relation to the shootout and resisting arrest in Monroe County, Wooten said.
“There will be three counties in line for him,” Davis said. “It shows a pattern that this person was involved in some illegal behavior all around.”