Latest Macon homicide victim was shot dead by cousin in spat over $20, police say

The shooting death last Saturday evening of Willie Green “Keybe” Smith Jr. happened amid a side-street stretch of run-down houses and dirt-patch yards where some people hang out to drink and pass the time in the shade.

According to the police and witnesses, Smith, 62, had been arguing about a small amount of cash with his 57-year-old cousin, Michael Wayne Williams, when Williams pulled a gun and shot Smith in the head.

“His cousin killed him over $20,” Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones later said.

The coroner has over the years seen his share of killings triggered by seemingly innocuous slights and transgressions. There was once, he recalls, a slaying over a cigarette. Another, in 2003, saw an uncle shoot and kill his nephew over $2 the nephew had borrowed to buy some french fries.

Saturday evening’s slaying on Ibex Street was the county’s 18th homicide this year.

Ibex runs east off Houston Avenue a couple of blocks north of Eisenhower Parkway. The street is a 200-yard-long strip of pavement flanked by 15 lots and houses with an average value of $19,000.

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The western end of Ibex Street at the intersection of Houston Avenue, just north of Eisenhower Parkway. Joe Kovac Jr.

Those who gather there come from all over the city, Bibb Sheriff David Davis said.

“It’s kind of a social-club-type atmosphere,” he said, describing the area as a place with a clientele that skews “a little older,” a spot where some go to drink alcohol and lounge.

The sheriff said that Smith and Williams, both of whom lived on the city’s east side, were “stable individuals,” and that they “weren’t people who lived the illegal street life.”

A sheriff’s report of the 5 p.m. shooting said a Bibb deputy dispatched to the scene found the fatally wounded Smith lying in front of 471 Ibex St.

“Mr. Smith was still breathing when I arrived,” the officer’s write-up stated, “but was unresponsive.”

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The house at 471 Ibex St. in Macon near where Willie Green Smith Jr. was found after he was shot Sept. 28, 2019. Bibb County Tax Assessor

A man there soon told the deputy that Williams and Smith had been arguing about cash inside the house, shoving one another before stepping outside “where it appeared Smith tried to get in his vehicle” to leave, the report noted.

Another man told the deputy that he saw “Mr. Williams push Mr. Smith, and when Mr. Smith turned around Mr. Williams pulled out a gun and shot him in the head,” the report stated.

Williams, according to the second man, got in his truck and drove away.

Williams was arrested half an hour or so later and charged with murder. He was being held without bond at the county jail.

Smith’s funeral was set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Greater Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church on Napier Avenue.

Joe Kovac Jr. covers crime and courts for The Telegraph with an eye for human-interest stories. A Warner Robins native, he joined the paper in 1991 after graduating from the University of Georgia.