Tift County Sheriff Gene Scarbrough thanked a courageous young lady during a press conference Friday morning for her help in catching five people who have been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
The incident took place about 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. Tyler Antwan Johnson, 19, of Omega, died about mid-afternoon Wednesday from a gunshot wound to the head, after being airlifted to a Thomasville hospital.
According to Scarbrough, the woman witnessed some of the events going on, and took action.
"She was a trooper. She got in the car and followed, and got the tag number and a description of the car, then found a deputy at a restaurant in Omega, and ran in there and told him. Four or 5 miles up the road, they were pulled over," he said. He added that he doesn't want the public to put themselves in harm's way, but he did encourage citizens to contact law enforcement when they know or see something crime-related.
Once the description was called in and released to officials in the area, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Ranger Greg Wade spotted the white Chevy Impala traveling on Ty Ty Omega Road. The vehicle was pulled over and Trevon Azell Rushton, 21, Kelly Denise Warren, 31, Edwin A. Williams, 24, and Carrington Diore Hollis, 21, all of Thomasville, were taken into custody.
Ronadarin Tyron Jones, 23, of Omega, was arrested at a residence in Omega about 6 p.m that same night.
As to how the five are related to each other, or to Johnson, Scarbrough would not comment.
"There's speculation on that, but what I could tell you, I couldn't back up, so I won't comment on that," he said.
Special Agent in Charge Kim Backer, with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the GBI is now conducting the investigation, and also would not comment on motive or connections between suspects.
"That's part of our investigation. Since it's ongoing, I can't release that information at this time. There are four of the suspects that are from Thomasville, and that is part of the connection," she said.
Baker was asked if the incident was gang-related, and she said the GBI has "no information at this time to support that."
Scarbrough thanked everyone who cooperated and assisted in the arrest, including Tift 911, Omega Police Department, DNR, GBI and the Tift County Sheriff's Office. He also thanked the citizens in the neighborhood where the shooting took place, at 1566 Georgia Avenue in Omega.
"Everybody we talked to cooperated. It was a concerted effort between law enforcement and the community. We have to have the eyes and the ears of the public. This is a perfect example of everybody working together," he said. "We had four people in jail within an hour-and-a-half of the shooting."
The sheriff also said the woman who provided information to investigators was crucial to the outcome of the case.
"Had she not been there, we'd probably have a totally different outcome. I commend her on doing what she did," he said.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.