When police responding to a 911 call banged on the door of a suburban Atlanta home, they were greeted by a 4-year-old girl in a blood-soaked shirt who said her whole family was dead, a neighbor said.
Gwinnett County police said 44-year-old Richard Ringold fatally shot two women, a man and an 11-year-old girl and injured the 4-year-old Thursday night. Police believe Ringold lived at the house and was the boyfriend of one of the women killed but were still investigating the motive and circumstances Friday, said spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman.
Police responding to the 911 call arrived at the home in Lawrenceville, about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, around 8:40 p.m. Samantha Manchester, who lives across a cul-de-sac from the two-story home, said Friday that she heard police banging on the door and yelling, “It’s the police, open up!”
The officers seemed surprised, she said, when the child opened the door. As paramedics cut away the girl’s shirt, Manchester and another neighbor who were trying to comfort the girl could see that she had been shot “between her heart and her shoulder blade.”
“She was in shock, but she seemed like she had so much strength,” Manchester said of the girl, who wasn’t crying. “She said, ’My whole family’s dead.”’
Police identified the dead as 28-year-old Atania Butler, 30-year-old Lakeisha Parker, 19-year-old Rico Zimmerman and an 11-year-old girl whose name was not immediately released. Butler was the mother of the 11-year-old and the 4-year-old.
The 4-year-old girl’s name also was not released, but Spellman said the girl was still alive Friday afternoon at Atlanta’s Scottish Rite hospital.
As neighbors from the quiet subdivision drawn by the ambulances and police cars gathered outside, police officers told everyone to go home and lock their doors because a killer was on the loose, Manchester said.
Police obtained an arrest warrant for Ringold on charges of murder and aggravated assault, Spellman said. They put out an alert for Ringold and said he was armed and dangerous.
Ringold arrived at the home shortly after midnight Friday and was arrested. “He asked what we were doing and why we were looking for him,” Spellman said.
Manchester said she didn’t know the family well but that they had moved to the neighborhood about a year ago from New Orleans. Butler and Ringold were often seen playing with the children outside and seemed to get along well, Manchester said.
“There’s never whatsoever been anything at that house,” she said. “That’s why this is so surprising.”
Spellman said Ringold was being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail. He is charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.