Skip to comments.3 dead in Lilburn (GA) home invasion
Posted on 01/14/2004 9:06:48 AM PST by Kennesaw
3 dead in Lilburn home invasion
By MIKE MORRIS Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
The victims: William Venable Sr. and William Venable Jr.
A longtime teacher and coach at Tucker High School and his 17-year-old son were killed Tuesday night during a home invasion in Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett police said Coach Bill Venable's home was the second house the suspect had barged into during a late-night crime spree that ended when police shot and killed the suspect.
"Lilburn police responded to a home invasion at 4813 Lula Street," said Gwinnett police Cpl. Dan Huggins. "The suspect came into the residence, demanded money, and also stole a red Honda Civic."
The suspect then drove the stolen car about a mile to the Woodfalls subdivision in Lilburn, where he entered Venable's house on Woodfall Way, "and that's when the killing started," Huggins said.
"The suspect entered that residence, and there were three people home, a male, a female and their son," he said. "The suspect got into some type of struggle with the 55-year-old male, and the son came downstairs to see what the commotion was."
The man -- later identified as the Tucker coach -- and his son, Bill Venable Jr., were shot.
The teen died at the scene, and his father died later at Gwinnett Medical Center.
After the shooting, the suspect fled on foot into nearby woods.
Helicopters and dogs were called in to track the suspect, and the suspect opened fire on a police dog, hitting the dog twice.
At that point, two Gwinnett police officers shot the suspect, Huggins said.
The unidentified suspect, who appeared to be in his early 20s, died at Gwinnett Medical Center.
The police dog, shot in the leg and chest, was taken to an emergency veterinarian clinic and was expected to survive, Huggins said.
A neighbor of the Venables, Delores Hendrix, said Venable's wife, Susan, was not hurt in the attack.
"I'm just making sure she's OK," Hendrix said Wednesday. "She came to my house. We've been neighbors for years. We're still obviously very distraught over what happened. It's just a horrible thing."
Tucker High School principal David Butler said Hendrix, who is in his Sunday School class, called him shortly after the shootings to tell him what had happened.
Police were not sure how the suspect entered the Venable home, Huggins said. "There does not appear that there was forced entry into the house," he said. "We don't know if the door was open or what the situation was at this point."
Huggins said the shooter apparently chose his victims at random.
"We don't have anything to indicate that this individual was ... connected to either residence," Huggins said.
According to the Tucker Tigers football team's Website, Venable and his wife had four children, a 19-year-old daughter, Amy, and sons Stephen, 27, Eddie, 24, and Bill Jr., 17.
Venable, who also coached the girl's track team and taught special education classes, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia, and earned a master's degree from Georgia State University.
He had taught in the DeKalb school system for 25 years, the last 16 at Tucker High School. He formerly taught at the old Walker and Shamrock high schools.
Bill Venable Jr. was a senior at Tucker High School, and played center on the varsity football team.
Before classes started, Erica Ulmer, a high school junior, described the elder Venable as a a caring teacher. "He was very passionate about his coaching," she said.
She added that she was hesitant to go into the school building. "It's hard to go in there right now because everyone is crying."
Tucker Principal Scott Butler said the school would hold a moment of silence to remember the Venables Wednesday morning and and that officials would make an announcement about the deaths to students at 8:15 a.m.
Crisis teams also were at the school to talk with students.
Butler said Venable, who also taught special education students, had been at the school earlier Tuesday night for a wrestling meet.
Next-door neighbor Carla Parris called Bill Jr. "wonderful and polite, the perfect son -- everything was 'yes ma'am,' and 'yes, Mrs. Parris.' "
Parris, an administrator at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital in Atlanta, said the teen often babysat for her children, 10-year-old Stephanie and 7-year-old Winston.
"Bill was the type of person, if I was really in a jam, I'd say, 'Bill, I've got to have a babysitter,' and he'd go, 'fine.' "
Parris said her family had lived next to the Venables for nearly nine years.
"I don't know how to explain this to my kids," she said. "What am I going to tell them?
-Some- good news, at least.