In a news conference that evening, Cobb County Police Chief Tim Cox said Rhoden was charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping. Cox thanked multiple local and federal agencies for their help in the investigation, as well as members of the community, who he said provided helpful tips.
Police were dispatched to Pinetree Country Club near Kennesaw, Ga., on Saturday afternoon, responding to reports of a shooting after a white Dodge Ram pickup truck drove onto the golf course.
Golf pro Eugene Siller, 46, who works at the club, was shot in the head after he “happened upon a crime in progress involving the unknown suspect and the two deceased males who were found in the pickup truck,” Cobb County police said in a news release. They said he was not targeted but rather killed because he “witnessed an active crime taking place.”
Upon arrival, the police first identified Siller, Pinetree’s director of golf, near the 10th hole with a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. They then discovered the bodies of Henry Valdez, 46, and Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas in the bed of the pickup, which belonged to Pierson. They also had gunshot wounds, police said in a statement.
Pierson and Valdez appear to have no relation to the location, police said, but they gave no further details about the two men.
Before Thursday’s arrest, some residents said they were concerned for their safety.
“There are different scenarios running in our heads, but you’d think that after four days we would know more. It just does not add up,” said Kelley Gullison, who lives about a mile and a half away from the country club, adding that the killings shocked her considering the residential area is usually safe and quiet. (Kennesaw, a suburban community of about 34,000, is about 25 miles northwest of Atlanta.)
“When has anyone ever heard of a homicide happening in the middle of the golf course?” Gullison added.
In their statement Tuesday, Cobb County police appeared to tackle some of the community’s worries.
“We are aware that the public has many questions, the most pressing one being why this happened; however, it is too early in the investigation to speculate as to motive,” they said.
Cox had no more information about motive in the Thursday news conference, saying the investigation was ongoing. He declined to answer questions about any connection between Rhoden and Pierson and Valdez, though he reiterated that police do not believe Siller had any connection to the suspect.
Members of the country club and golf community said they were both devastated and dumbfounded by the events.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” Brian Katrek, a Pinetree member, told CNN. “I think the reaction from members right now is still one of pretty profound shock.”
A GoFundMe page started on behalf of Siller’s family — he is survived by his wife and two young sons — had raised more than $600,000 on Wednesday.
The Georgia State Golf Association said in a statement on Twitter that it was “deeply saddened by the tragic events.”
John Lavender was at the driving range Saturday when he heard five loud bangs. He said the white pickup drove onto the golf course and got stuck on a hill.
“For this to happen so close to home, I just grew up in the city; it is just mind-blowing to me,” he told CNN affiliate WXIA.
Lavender described the events as “unfortunate and senseless.”
Club President Lou Bottino said in a letter to members that Siller’s wife and other relatives visited the 10th hole Wednesday to see where the “unimaginable tragic act” had taken place, according to CNN, and added that the site had become a memorial.