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July 12, 2007 Issue

Rottweiler attacks 3-year-old
Five charged in string of Louisville robberies
In Search of a View

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Rottweiler attacks 3-year-old

• Child released from Medical College with 57 stitches

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Standing in a neighbor’s yard Saturday night almost turned into a tragedy for 3-year-old Stephanie Gilmore and her mother Melissa Holloway.

A female Rottweiler, owned by Willie Gilmore, the child’s father, attacked the child for no apparent reason, according to Jefferson County Health Department’s Belinda Sheram.


“The dog came from around the house and attacked the daughter for no reason. It was an unprovoked attack,” Sheram said.

“I was standing in a neighbor’s yard and she was in the yard,” Holloway said. “She was walking with the boy dog when the girl dog came out from nowhere and snatched her down.”

The Rottweiler, who is also 3- years-old, grabbed the child by her leg and dragged her across the street and tried to drag her into the woods, Holloway and Sheram said Tuesday.

“When I first saw it happen, I was just running to her and I thought 'I can’t let this dog kill my baby,'” Holloway said.

“The mother was trying to hold onto the child, so the dog began to drag the mother and the child,” Sheram said.

“A neighbor ran her car into a tree trying to run over the dog.

The mother picked up a brick and tried to beat the dog in the head, but to no avail.”

During the struggle, two neighbors, Wendolyn Gibbons and Helen Burton, came to the aid of Holloway and her daughter at two separate times and hit the dog with their vehicles.

“Wendolyn hit her and her car went into a tree and Helen came up on the opposite side and hit her and she still didn’t let go,” Holloway said.

Trying to hold on to her daughter, Holloway said she began to feel weary during the 15 minute ordeal.

“I was losing my strength, but God was giving me more strength to hold on to her,” Holloway said.

“After all of it, I just fainted I was so weak.

The dog was dragging me and her. I never thought a dog would be that strong.”

Sheram said the incident was finally brought to an end when the child’s father had to “man handle” the dog to get the child out of its mouth near the woods.

“I called her daddy and he came home and he took the dog and body slammed her,” Holloway said. “Her daddy was tussling with the dog. He scooped her up from behind and body slammed her.

He beat that dog as if he were beating a person.”

The dog had bitten Holloway’s daughter seven times and dislocated the bottom part of her leg from her thigh.

“Her daddy got her and was trying to get her to his truck, when the dog came running up behind him and officers and that is when an officer turned around and shot him,” Holloway said.

“That particular dog, I didn’t like, she acted crazy all the time.

We kept her in a fence. That night she looked like a demon, I don’t know what got into that dog.”

According to Rural Metro Director Mike Bennett the child was taken to the Medical College of Georgia where she arrived in stable condition.

Bennett said she was conscious, alert and oriented. “She wasn’t in shock and she didn’t panic,” Holloway said, adding, “the only thing that really scared her was the dog.

She kept hollering for her daddy. All she wanted was her daddy.”

The parents reported to Sheram that their daughter had 57 stitches in her leg, but was released from the hospital Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and is doing fine at this time.

Holloway said her daughter was in surgery for an hour and a half.

As of Sunday, doctors did not believe her daughter would have any life long affects from the attack.

Holloway said they had to visit the doctor again on Wednesday.

Sheram said she took the dog to the local veterinarian, where the animal’s head was removed and transported to the regional laboratory in Waycross.

Reports came back Tuesday afternoon as negative for rabies.

“My advice to parents is if you own a dog of this nature, when your children are born, life changes and sometimes you need to change with it and offer these types of dog to people with no children,” Sheram advised.

“No one needs this type of dog in a heavily populated area.

“I would especially like to thank 911 ambulance service who was at the scene in three minutes, the Louisville Police Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Louisville Fire Chief.

Without this entire group, my job would have been very, very difficult.”

Though this was the first time the family had seen one of their dogs attack anyone, they did put the male dog down.

“He wasn’t a bad dog, but we didn’t want to take no chances,” Holloway said.

Her daughter is back to normal, except for the bandage that wraps around her right leg.

“She is scared to walk, but hasn’t complained of pain at all,” Holloway said.

“She has been laughing and playing with her friends.

She just keeps asking, ‘Has daddy cut the dog's teeth out?’”

Five charged in string of Louisville robberies

• July 2 armed robberies began with plans to murder two area men, investigators said

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

A string of armed robberies in Louisville landed four men and one juvenile from the Wrens Quarters area in jail last week.

In recent weeks, the Louisville Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating a series of armed robberies, beginning with that of a truck driver three weeks ago, the Dairy Queen robbery later that day and followed by the July 2 reign of terror on the city of Louisville with four armed robberies early that Monday morning.


“This really scared folks,” Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Clark Hiebert said.

One of the suspects got his first taste of armed robbery last year while robbing an individual in December.

Unrelated to this more recent string of robberies, Kyle Gilmore, Bonnie Washington Jr. and Terrell Smith were previously charged in a Dec. 2, 2006, robbery of an individual.

Smith is currently serving time in prison for a parole violation and will have to come back to Jefferson County for trial.

Gilmore was being held without a bond, but Hiebert said because one of the grand jurors was related to him, the county could not proceed on the case for indictment.

“He was then eligible to make bond,” Hiebert said.

“Now here he is involved in more.

He was supposed to be under house arrest and IPS supervision, but he was not staying at home; this proves he was not staying at home.

When we went to pick him up at his home on a possession of cocaine with intent to distribute charge June 18, he was not home at that time.”

First robbery

Louisville Police Chief Jimmy Miller reported that the driver of a tractor trailer was robbed of between $6 to $8 early Saturday, June 16.

The driver had stopped at the Jet Food Store in Louisville and was leaving the store to return to his truck. As he approached his truck, a man stepped from behind his vehicle with a weapon and demanded money.

A second man who had been on the pay phone while the driver was in the store came behind him and helped to search the driver’s bag and then both left on foot in the direction of Wrens Quarters.

Dairy Queen robbery

Later Saturday, June 16, three individuals robbed the Dairy Queen in Louisville. Hiebert said Christopher Young, 24, Gilmore and a juvenile have been charged in the Dairy Queen robbery.

According to Miller’s initial report, the robbers were wearing masks and came into the store just as employees were closing for the evening.

“They had already turned the lights off but hadn’t locked up,” Miller said. “One robber was armed with a handgun and fired a single shot into the ceiling of the business and demanded the money the store had. After getting the business’ proceeds they had an employee open the door at the rear and left on foot.”

Hiebert said at the time the amount of money was not disclosed but employees said it was between $6,000 to $7,000 while the suspects claim it was between $3,000 to $4,000.

Hiebert explained that he, Miller and other officers followed the tracks leading from Dairy Queen to a Wrens Quarters residence.

“We followed tracks on the fence by the old Family Dollar, then behind Fuel South, by the bus shop, where they cut through a gate and straight to the stop sign on Price Street and straight to a residence’s gateway,” Hiebert said.

“We knocked on the door and a young man came forward with his mother and provided his shoes, which did look very similar to one of them in the tracks.

As we questioned him, we found out he had come in close to that time, but we did not feel comfortable proceeding with an arrest because it did not seem he was involved.

We watched his demeanor and he was not offensive and he was very calm.”

Hiebert said the youth had witnesses as to his whereabouts and it was verified by officers. As the investigation progressed, he later learned that Young, Gilmore and the juvenile did in fact go the same route and admitted to entering through the residence’s front yard and going out the back down the street.

“I was called in on the Dairy Queen robbery shortly after it happened,” Hiebert said. “Miller and I have worked closely together and have tried to come up with answers and tried to determine what happened and who the suspects were. Three weeks went by.”

Hiebert received a tip on the Friday prior to the Monday, July 2, armed robberies on two of the suspects involved in the Dairy Queen robbery.

“On July 2, we had reports of the armed robberies coming in around 3:45 a.m.,” Hiebert explained. “The chief asked me to come in to help. We met with several deputies and officers in trying to make the arrests. We hit several places at the same time.”

Hill area armed robberies

According to Hiebert, Young, Gilmore, the juvenile along with cousins Merkeith Lane, 20, and Dominique Lane, 19, moved from Wrens Quarters to the Hill area with intent to commit murder.

“The reason one of the suspects wanted to go over to the Hill was to kill Isaac Thompson because he had made an offensive remark at a club a few nights prior,” Hiebert said. “He found this offensive and embarrassing in front of others.

“One of the same five wanted to go to another residence to kill an individual for shooting at them days earlier.”

At the Thompson residence two of the five entered the first room of the home, where they found a girl sleeping. Hiebert said the suspects held guns on the girl, as other suspects went to another room in the home to find a woman and man in a bed.

Thompson was not at the residence at the time of the armed robberies.

“The suspects asked for the money and dope, the man said it was at the front of the house,” Hiebert said. “The suspects held guns on the victims as they searched the house. They were begging and screaming with the suspects as they pistol whipped the man.”

According to Hiebert, the suspects could not find the money or any drugs and left the residence, but not before making a chilling statement.

“A victim said that one of the suspects made the statement, ‘I like this, let’s hit another place,’” Hiebert said.

Also at the Thompson residence, Hiebert said that one of the suspects fired shots into the residence as if to let them know they would shoot.

After they left the Thompson residence, all five entered Kenneth Heath’s residence. Hiebert said while the suspects were inside, Heath and his brother pulled in the yard. Heath’s brother entered the house to find the suspects. As he fled gunfire erupted between the two parties. Heath’s brother was shot in his hand and leg.

At that time, Young, Gilmore and the juvenile separated from the Lanes, where they went to the Jet Food Store adjacent to Wrens Quarters.

Jet armed robberies

The three suspects approached an 18-wheeler in the store’s parking lot.

“Two of the three tried to enter the truck and tried to get him to get out so they could rob him,” Hiebert said.

Hiebert said the driver of the truck resisted attempts made by the suspects to rob him. The suspects then went around the corner of the Jet building where they waited on a victim to rob.

“The truck driver said he saw the suspects had weapons and the driver tried to spin out; as he did, the suspects rushed towards Grant Street,” Hiebert said. “Two had gone part way and one stopped in the bushes.”

According to Hiebert, the driver believed the suspects were going to rob the store, but after he saw them leave, he pulled back into the parking lot.

“The driver said he saw a car come up and someone exited the car to put bags of trash in the dumpster, when two rushed up to him with weapons,” Hiebert said. “This [victim] was Jerome Carr. He told police that they said, ‘We know you, we’re not gonna rob you.’”

Carr told police that the suspects left the parking lot, running up the street. Hiebert said that Carr was a cousin of one of the suspects.


The first two of the five suspects to be arrested were Gilmore and the juvenile around 7 a.m. July 2. Monday evening Young was brought in on an unrelated charge as Hiebert was headed out of the door to pick him up.

“Leroy Morgan was dispatched to Palmer Street where a victim said Young and another suspect were chasing him with guns,” Hiebert said. “Young did confirm it was him, but denies involvement of any guns and he was charged with pointing a gun at another and disorderly conduct.”

The last two to be picked up in connection with the armed robberies on the hill in Louisville were the Lane cousins.

Hiebert said that he, along with deputies, officers and Chief Miller went to the residence of D. Lane to serve a search and arrest warrant. While searching the house, they found two black shirts that Hiebert said were wet from sweat under D. Lane’s bed under a pile of clean clothes.

“His family members said he left about 30 minutes ago and was in the Quarters,” Hiebert said. “When officers spotted him, he failed to stop. I know, from involvement with him in other cases, that Dominique Lane likes to hide in the woods.”

Hiebert waited in the woods behind D. Lane’s residence to see if he could spot Lane as he exited the woods.

“I heard something crack, I knew it was too heavy to be a deer,” Hiebert said. “I heard another crack and it sounded as if something was approaching me. It was near dusk, so I turned on my Taser, which has a bright light that shines out, and I shined it in that direction.

“As I was shining the Taser, something took off running headed towards the residence. I ran out of the woods in the same direction. I could tell it was a black male as he took a big leap over some brush. He was stuck in the brush. He made it within a foot of escaping. This is where I downed him with the help of deputies.”

Thursday evening, warrants were issued for the arrest of Merkeith Lane. Hiebert met with Deputies Chip Evans, Gary McCord, Tim Moore and Alan Logue, where he asked them to apprehend M. Lane at his residence on Friday morning between 2:30 a.m. and 3:45 a.m.

Evans contacted Hiebert to let him know that M. Lane was in custody and he was apprehended without resistance.

The suspects who were said to have guns by witnesses and testimony were D. Lane, Gilmore, Young and the juvenile. Hiebert said no one acknowledged that M. Lane had a weapon.

Currently all of the suspects are still being held at the Jefferson County Jail without bond, while the juvenile was released to his mother pending a hearing on Wednesday.

“The four adults involved have all been denied bond by the Magistrate Court,” Hiebert said. “I am sure their families and public defenders will appeal for a bond through the Superior Court Judge.”

Three of the suspects are charged with three counts of armed robbery; two are charged with two counts of armed robbery and three are charged with criminal attempt, all of which are felonies. Hiebert said additional charges are to be expected.

Hiebert said he had several people in the community and law enforcement officers he wanted to thank for assisting in the suspects’ apprehensions.

“We have been able, with help of those who called in with information and working close with law enforcement, to identify all the subjects involved in all of the armed robberies,” Hiebert said.

“So many people are down on somebody that snitches, but they still want a place to go unmolested and unafraid.

They want to feel secure in their homes.

And to put down these people that provide information to law enforcement is offensive to investigators who have the responsibility to solve crimes.

No investigator is any better than his or her contacts in the streets.

Throughout the past three weeks we had so many good citizens come forward to offer information, not for money or a favor, but they wanted a safe environment for their neighbors and friends in the community.”

In Search of a View

Some assembly required

• Love for aviation coalesces in experimental aircraft

By Jessica Newberry

Some people will do anything for a good view, but Louisville pilots Pierre Smith and Larry Morgan have gone a little beyond your average effort.

With almost 70 years of combined flying experience, they have discovered that one of the best views can be found in a plane.


“We live in a pretty world, but it’s a lot prettier from the air,” Morgan said. “After I sold my Cessna, I thought ‘What have I done?’”

Smith was also in the market for a plane at the time, so the two men began their search for the perfect aircraft.

“I wanted an airplane that I could use to visit places,” said Smith, who can now make the trip to Athens in 30 minutes to visit his son, Matt.

They decided to purchase a plane on halves but soon realized they wanted to take on a bigger project.

“I had always wanted to build one, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Morgan.

Smith and Morgan drove to Texas to purchase a quick-build kit for the two-seater RV-6A and brought the pieces back in a Uhaul truck.

“We opted for the quick build because we just wanted to get in the air,” Smith said.

In these kits, the wings are 90 percent constructed, and the gas tanks are fully assembled.

It costs about $8,000 more but eliminates approximately half the building time.

“Factories can’t afford to take a lot of time on each plane, but most homebuilders are very careful,” said Smith. “We were able to take time to pamper ours.”

Completion of Smith's and Morgan’s RV-6A took one year and nine months with the pair working two to three hours on weekdays and entire weekend afternoons.

“If we hadn’t used a quickbuild kit, it probably would have taken us another year and a half,” Morgan said.

“We wanted to finish it, so we really stuck our noses to the grinding wheel.”

The RV-6A is known as an experimental or amateur-built aircraft because at least 51 percent is built by the individual.

It was designed by Richard VanGrunsven and was introduced in 1986.

Airplane kits can cost from $40,000 to more than $100,000 depending on added features, according to Smith.

Weighing in at 1,045 pounds, the airplane can be rolled by hand from the hangar on its tricycle.

It has 70 pounds of luggage capacity and can travel at up to 208 miles per hour.

“The plane has a composite propeller from California with a lot of twist for maximum speed,” said Smith.

“Our plane also has a used engine that was rebuilt. It’s always a bit of a nail biter until you know it’s going to run.”

The RV-6A is stronger than average factory built airplanes and is designed to do aerobatics, according to Smith, who added a 180-horsepower engine for maximum performance.

The sliding glass canopy also provides excellent visibility for spectacular views, according to Smith.

“I try to fl y it at least once a week, and I like to get out on crisp, clear mornings and do a few loops,” said Smith.

Before Smith and Morgan could try out their newly constructed plane, it first had to pass inspection by the Federal Aviation Association.

After the airworthiness certificate is completed, 40 hours of flying time must be logged within a designated area to work out any operational issues.

Smith and Morgan completed these hours within a 60-mile-block between Waynesboro, Vidalia, Eastman and Sandersville.

“The real excitement was getting it inspected and up in the air,” Morgan said. “The farther along we got, the more excited we were.

It was finally starting to look like a real plane.”

Most homebuilders must travel long distances to receive transition training required by the Experimental Aircraft Association, but Smith is one of only five instructors in the country.

Smith and Morgan also had to register the plane with the FAA, but they were able to select a personalized number, N33PL, with the initials of the owners’ first names.

“We named her ‘Sojourner’ because it means to spend time in places away from home,” said Smith. “We’re so proud of that little sucker,” said Smith. “It’s just been pure pleasure.”

Smith and Morgan have traveled to St. Simons Island and Lakeland, Fla., but they have plans for many future trips.

“I would kind of like to go to Texas because that’s where we got the plane,” said Morgan. “The plane’s so fast that it’s hard to just fl y around in circles around Louisville all the time.”

Although both men have been flying for many years, viewing the world in a plane they built with their own hands seems to have rekindled their true love of flying.

“I knew I wanted to fly on my first ride with Dad when I was 9-years-old,” said Morgan, who received his pilot’s license in 1980.

As a crop duster, Smith has also logged many hours in the air but still enjoys every minute of it.

“I got my commercial pilot’s license to fly for pay in 1969, just before I got out of the army,” said Smith.

“I got my glider and multi-engine ratings after that and then became a member of the EAA.”

Smith recently hosted a fly-in for fellow EAA members at the Louisville Airport on Saturday, June 9.

Thirty airplanes from various parts of Georgia flew in for the event including 24 RVs.

Approximately 60 people attended a fish fry at Smith’s hangar next to the airport. The Wrens Fall Fly-in is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13.

Many types of aircraft will be flying in for the event, and everyone is invited to the Wrens Memorial Airport.

For more information, visit http://jcmservices.net/wrensfallflyin07.htm.

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