UPDATE | Funeral arrangements made for Appling shooting victims

Published: Apr. 22, 2016 at 8:48 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Thursday, April 28, 2016

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Funeral arrangements have been set for the five people killed in a shooting rampage last Friday.

The funeral service for Rheba Mae Dent, Roosevelt Burns, and Kelia Clark will be held Friday, April 29 at noon, at Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans.

For Shelly and Lizzy Williams, the funeral service will be Monday, May 2 at 2 p.m. at Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez.


News 12 at 11 o' clock/ April 25, 2016

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The first shooting happened Friday evening, around 8:00PM while family members were in the the backyard of Rheba Mae Dent's home, cleaning chicken in the shed for their cousin's funeral the next day.

Lauren Hawes says she picked up her one year old daughter from her grandma's house Friday evening, about 30 minutes before the shooting, not knowing those goodbye's would be their last.

Lauren's grandma, great uncle, cousin, and two family friends would be dead within the hour, at the hands of her own father.

"My grandma and everybody, that was my heart and soul. My cousin was like my sister. We grew up wearing matching pajamas, matching dresses on Easter," Lauren recalls.

Lauren's cousin, 31 year old Kelia Clark worked at the VA, and was getting married in October. Lauren was supposed to be her maid of honor. Her grandma, 85 year old Rheba Mae Dent was known as 'Big Ma.' She says she was like a mother to half of the neighborhood. Her great uncle, 75 years old Roosevelt Burns, loved to hunt and fish, and could fix anything. Lizzy Williams, 59 and Shelly Williams, 62 where friends from church. She says her father was very good friends with the two of them.

Lauren says trouble started brewing a few weeks ago. Her dad kicked her and her one year old daughter out of his home after an argument when Lauren says she was sticking up for her mom. Then, last week, she says her mom stuck up for herself after decades of verbal abuse.

"My mom had left, and this time it was for real. She had left before and it was kind of sporadic and she didn't really take anything. This time it was more planned. She took her personal belongings," said Lauren.

Those actions came with threats, unfortunately, not the empty kind.

"Last week he had started making threats saying that he would kill her and that he was going to make CNN news," she said.

Friday evening, around 8, Lauren got a call about the first shooting from her cousin, who was inconsolable on the phone. She arrived to chaos at her grandma's house. Deputies told her they believed her dad shot and killed three of her family members. A few kids witnessed the whole thing.

"They were just outside playing and some of them actually said he pointed a gun at them," said Lauren.

A cousin heard the shots and ran outside to see Hawes leaving.

"They said he walked, not swiftly, but calmly. Got in his vehicle. He didn't speed off, but just drove off calmly. Just drove off," said Lauren. "After about 10 or 15 minutes out there, we heard news of the other shooting and we went into hiding because we didn't know if he was still on the loose. We were, at that point, fearful for our own lives."

Lauren, her mom, sister, and one year old daughter all hid in a neighbor's back room across the street, while deputies searched for her dad.

"The police escorted us out in a protective vehicle with sharpshooters," she said.

They waited at the police substation in Evans until they heard the news: her dad lit his home on fire, then shot and killed himself in his garage.

News 12's Laura Warren asked Lauren, "Do you ever wonder what would have happened if he would have found you and your mom?"

Lauren said, "I already know. I already know we weren't going to make it."

Now, there's nothing left for Lauren and her family to do but grieve, hold each other a little tighter, and come to terms with a new normal that will never be anything close to normal.


News 12 First at Five / Monday, April 25, 2016

APPLING, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The healing process will be a tough one for one tight-knit community. But the pastor of the church they all attended, Second Mount Carmel Baptist, says as hard as it will be, they need to forgive the shooter.

Pastor Echols Miller says this tragedy will not be soon forgotten. The victims, five god-loving people, spanning many generations, not soon forgotten either.

"They knew each other. everybody grew up together," said Miller, "And that's what makes it so hard to understand."

Rheba Mae Dent, Roosevelt Burns, Keila Clark, Lizzy and Shelly Williams - all killed by Wayne Hawes in a shooting rampage before he turned the gun on himself.

"There's a void that is here now. It was very heavy in the church yesterday," said Miller.

The pastor knew them all, and knew them well. He recalled each victims usual pew.

Rheba Mae, or Mother Rheba, sat up front.

"She was looked at as the mother of the community. She was the person that everybody in the neighborhood would go to," explained Miller.

Roosevelt, known better as "Uncle Dick," sat off to the side.

"He was the one who set a lot of good examples for other people to follow," Miller said.

He said the Williams family sat in the back left, and that the two were a well-respected married couple with a beautiful and loving family.

Keila had just gone to see him.

"She was due to be married in October," he said, "We had just talked about counseling and everything the first of this month."

During this difficult time, the pastor say questions arise.

"You ask the question why. which is a common thing to do in events like this however - like I told an explained to them, we must not focus on the why but focus on the God who we believe in," he said.

Beyond the walls of the church, there are other signs of prayer and healing, in the form of pictures and reminders - posted online.

In the midst of the tragic memories, hard to escape from, Miller says the message of forgiveness has never been more clear.

"Although he did what he did - he has to be forgiven," he said.


Monday, April 25, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Four of the people killed in Friday's shootings are in Atlanta for autopsies.

The Columbia County Coroner's Office says four of the people have arrived in Atlanta. The remaining two will be transported tonight.


Monday, April 25, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A prayer vigil has been planned to remember five people who were killed on Friday.

The vigil will be held Wednesday, April 27th at 3165 Johnson Drive. It is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office believes Wayne Hawes killed himself after a shooting rampage that killed Rheba Mae Dent, Roosevelt Burns, Keila Clark and Lizzy and Shelly Williams.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Five victims and three active scenes, all within a mile in Columbia County.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office quickly found out it was all connected. Captain Andy Shedd says, "At 7:54 we were called to Johnson Drive in reference to shots fired and people who were struck by gunshots." Then, things got worse. "Roughly 30 minutes later, we were called to a second location just down the road on Washington Road to more shots fired and people injured by gunfire," Shedd says.

Even though the call on Johnson Drive came in 30 minutes earlier, Shedd says the sheriff's office is not 100% sure which shooting happened first.

While deputies investigated those shootings, they set up a perimeter around a third house on Rosemont Road. Shedd says, "We were able to bring in a tactical team from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the decision was made to go ahead and make entry into the house."

In the garage of that house deputies found Wayne Anthony Hawes shot in the head, an apparent suicide. In the living room a fire was smoldering.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office believes Hawes killed himself after a shooting rampage that killed Rheba Mae Dent (his wife's mother), Roosevelt Burns (his wife's uncle), Keila Clark (his wife's niece) and Lizzy and Shelly Williams (family friends of Hawes).

Shedd says the sheriff's office is still figuring out the motive, but they have an idea. "We know there were some domestic issues between the suspect and his wife, and we're trying to figure out exactly how these individuals who are now deceased played a part in that," Shedd says.

Today, family and friends gathered around Johnson Drive to mourn their lost loved ones. Family members say many of the people who live in the small community off Washington Road were related to the victims.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The man deputies say shot and killed five people before killing himself had multiple run ins with law enforcement.

Wayne Anthony Hawes was arrested six times in Columbia County starting in 1989. He faced charges for simple battery, speeding, driving without a license, shoplifting, selling cocaine, driving under the influence, obstruction of officers, and fleeing from police.

April 23, 2016



Coroner Vernon Collins confirms suspect Wayne Hawes was found dead in his home on Rosemont Road that was set on fire. He died from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Captain Andy Shedd with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office says surveillance started on Hawes' home after he was identified as a suspect shortly after the shootings.

The victims of the shooting have been identified as the following:

Victims from the Johnson Drive area:

Roosevelt Burns - 75

Rheba Mae Dent - 85

Kelia Clark - 31

Washington Road victims:

Lizzy Williams - 59

Shelly Williams - 62

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Deputies say they suspect Hawes started the fire. Hawes' body was discovered inside his garage.

UPDATE: 12:32 AM


Captain Andy Shedd with the Columbia County Sheriff's office says there is a structure fire on Rosemont Rd at the suspect's home. They have found a man dead with what appears to be a self inflicted gunshot wound.

UPDATE: 11:10 PM

APPLING, Ga (WRDW/WAGT)--- A spokesperson with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office confirms tonight's shooting that left five people dead may be domestic. They believe the suspect, Wayne Anthony Hawes snapped after he found out his wife was divorcing him. The suspect, Hawes, is currently on the loose.

Stay with News 12 for updates.


APPLING, Ga.--Captain Andy Shedd with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office says they believe this is the work of one gunman. They are still searching for that suspect. They do not have an identity confirmed yet.

Shedd confirms four victims died at the scene, another was transported to the hospital and died there.


APPLING, Ga. -- Coroner Vernon Collins confirms five people are dead in two shootings that are possibly connected on Johnson Drive in Appling.


APPLING, Ga. -- Captain Andy Shedd with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office confirms four people are dead in two connected shootings on Johnson Drive in Appling.


APPLING, Ga.--Deputies confirm they are working two separate crime scenes and are trying to locate the suspect involved.

Investigators are questioning neighbors because they are not sure who the suspect is at this point.

April 22, 2016

APPLING, Ga.-- Deputies are on the scene of a shooting on the 3000 block of Johnson Drive and a second shooting scene nearby at the corner of Washington Road at Johnson Drive in Appling, Ga.

We are hearing reports a man and woman have been shot.

Coroner Vernon Collins confirms he is en route to the scene. We asked if he was being called out in response to one person killed. He said, "I believe it is going to be two."

We have a crew on the way to the scene. Stay tuned for updates.