'We were barricaded, scared,' homicide victim's friend said of gunfire
As Christopher Jerome Battle lay wounded and moaning face down in his doorway, his friends next door were huddled in fear in the backroom of the duplex they share on Ruben Drive.
After calling 911 at 11:01 p.m. Tuesday, Lisa Washington said it took Bibb County sheriff's deputies about 90 minutes to arrive as their friend was dying in his doorway, about a block behind the Krispy Kreme on Pio Nono Avenue.
"We called 911 four times. We were barricaded, scared, hid in a back room because of the gunshots, scared to come out to even check on our neighbor, who is a good person," said Washington, who knew Battle for about 13 years.
Washington had nodded off while watching "NCIS: New Orleans" at 10 p.m. and awoke to what sounded like banging on her door, then gunshots.
"Pow-pow-pow-pow, and I jumped up with the phone in my hand," she said.
Her roommate, Al Leary, was as close as a brother to the 42-year-old Battle, whom he nicknamed "Cry" when he was 12 years old.
"He'd cry for no reason. He'd see a dead dog and he'd cry. So I said, 'your name is Cry,'" Leary said.
They had been friends for 30 years.
Washington said she and Leary were too scared to come out of hiding to even use the restroom.
She called back and was told a deputy was on the way.
"I called three times begging for an officer. I told the lady, 'I'm scared,'" Washington said.
Leary wrapped his arms around her as she broke down Wednesday morning on the front porch they shared with Macon's latest of seven homicide victims so far this year.
"To have to live in fear of being able to come out of our house and check on our friend and neighbor because we couldn't get a police officer here, it was awful," she said, burying her face in Leary's chest.
"It took them an hour and a half to get here," Leary said.
"And four 911 calls," she said through the tears.
"There's a police station right up here on Houston. They be around here all the time," Leary said. "Why would it take that long for them to get here? It shouldn't take that long. That was ridiculous."
They waited about 45 minutes before Washington couldn't take it any longer, fearing that Battle had been shot.
"I'm screaming at him, "Come on, let's go outside. Let's try to save him. I know he's out there." I just knew it in my heart," she said.
As they were holed up inside, Leary heard what sounded like Battle gasping for air in his final breaths, but they feared that a gunman was still out there.
"We knew it was something bad because of the moaning that he heard," Washington said.
Bibb County sheriff's Public Affairs Lt. Sean DeFoe said the first call to 911 reported that shots had been fired, but the caller did not request to meet with a deputy.
An officer did drive through the area but did not see anything, the 911 supervisor told DeFoe.
The couple finds that difficult to believe, since they say Battle's door was open and he was lying in the threshold.
A subsequent call about a person down came after Leary and Washington had found their wounded friend.
Another officer drove by, but Leary had to blink his porch light to get the deputy's attention.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said the call to EMS about a gunshot victim went out at 12:13 a.m., and Battle was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m.
"The man died at 11:01," Washington said Wednesday. "Today is my birthday, and they're not going to say he died on my birthday."
Battle was on disability, according to friends gathered at his house.
The concrete on the porch was still wet from where Leary washed away his friend's blood before Battle's family members came.
One man who identified himself only as "Cold Cash" said he didn't know anyone who would want to kill Battle: "Can't nobody say nothing bad about him. He had no enemies. None. Because they are giving people."
"No enemies. I can't come up with anybody," she said. "You're not safe nowhere. It's so unfair you have to live your life in so much fear."