A Georgia homeowner gunned down three masked teens, at least one of whom was armed, on Monday during a failed robbery that could be an incident of "stand your ground" defense, authorities said.
The three boys, one 15 and the other two 16, were fatally shot at 4 a.m. outside a home on White Oak Court in Conyers, Georgia, about 30 miles east of Atlanta, according to Rockdale County Sheriff's deputies.
"It could be possibly a stand-your-ground type of case based on the preliminary (information) that we have learned so far," Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett said. "It's just a matter of verifying all the information we have."
Georgia is one of the states that have "stand your ground" protections on the books, which allow some room for deadly force in cases of self-defense.
Two of the boys died at a hospital while the third was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. The teens still had masks on when first responders arrived.
"To this point, the investigation has revealed that the three now deceased individuals had their faces covered as they approached the residence and attempted to rob three individuals in the front yard," according to a statement by Deputy Lee Thomas.
"One of the attempted robbery suspects brandished a handgun and fired shots at the residents before one of the intended robbery victims returned fire."
When the gunfire erupted, neighbor Brian Jenkins said he hit the floor and then checked to see if his wife was OK.
"Upon finding out that she was fine, I heard a guy yelling for help: 'Help me, help me, I'm dying. I'm dying. Help me. Help,' " Jenkins told NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta.
None of the intended robbery targets were wounded, officials said.