Local Update - March 29, 2007

Arson destroys three Broad Street buildings

There was a big fire this morning on the 1900 block of Broad Street.

Richmond County dispatch says as many as three structures were involved. All of them are destroyed.

We're told three families are displaced.

We have confirmed there was a shooting in the area last night, so police and firefighters are investing this as arson. They believe this could be a revenge fire.

It took crews two to three hours to put it out.

Victims found near pond identified

There's new information this morning in a shocking discovery in Richmond County.

Deputies have identified the two men found near a pond.

The body that was discovered by a fisherman is that of 23-year-old Eladio Gonzales.

Deputies say the wounded man they found nearby in the woods is 26-year-old Jose Mochica.

Despite having been shot three times, Mochica was coherent enough to tell investigators what had happened. Ronald Banks, Lacy Barnard, and Antonio Jones have been arrested and charged in this case.

All three are facing charges of murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Investigators say robbery appears to be the motive. Still, deputies say, they have more work to do.

Jose Mochica is currently in critical condition, but is expected to recover.

Dog snatching trend

Drive-by dog snatching is becoming a trend across our area.

Deputies say people are targeting mostly pit bull puppies because of their high value. The thieves are re-selling them on the black market.

Another possibility for taking the animals is dog fights, though this is less common.

Deputies say the dognappers drive up to people's yards, take the puppies, and drive off.

We talked to a victim just who lost six pit bull puppies from his back yard.

"They're my babies. They're my grandkids. That's all I have," Terry Ramsey said.

Ramsey tells News 12 one of the puppies broke off her chain and found her way through these thick woods.

This is the second time this has happened to him in the past couple years.

The sheriff's department says the best thing you can do is keep a close watch on your animals when they're outside.

Housing Authority tours Atlanta mixed-use housing

Augusta Housing Authority members led a tour of mixed-use housing areas in Atlanta yesterday to sell the doubting Augusta public on the plan.

The authority is trying to convince people in several neighborhoods on Augusta's south side that similar housing would work there.

The people who live around the planned site tell News 12 they're worried about property values and crime.

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