Professor sought after three die in Georgia shooting

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A University of Georgia marketing professor has allegedly killed three people and injured two others today in the southeastern United States.

George M. Zinkhan, wanted by police in connection with the shooting, in a University of Georgia photo dated August 11, 2006.
Image: University of Georgia.
Jeep Liberty, similar to that owned by alleged shooter

The shooting took place approximately 12:25 p.m around the Athens Community Theater in the Athens-Clarke County, in the northeast part of Georgia.

Authorities suspect George Zinkhan in the shooting and have issued a nationwide alert for him and his 2005 red Jeep Liberty with Georgia license plate AIX1376.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reports that two handguns were found at the scene.

Athens-Clarke County Police Captain Clarence Holeman reported that two others were injured by shrapnel, and the extent of their injuries is unknown. A discussion took place before an evening performance between the alleged shooter and one of the victims.

The AJC reports that the victims were Marie Bruce, 47, Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40. Clarke County coroner Sonny Wilson said Saturday night that all three were shot multiple times.

Bruce was the wife of the alleged shooter and president of the theater company, while the others were part of a production of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Tanner was performing in the production, and Teague was a member of the production crew.

Police also report that Zinkhan was involved in an argument with an unidentified man before the shooting occurred.

According to Capt. Clarence Holeman of the Athens-Clarke County Police Dept., the two people wounded suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Athens. Holeman also confirmed that both victims were injured by ricochet: one in the leg and one in the foot.

Zinkhan is reported to have left his two youngest children in the car while at theater, and then left to drop them off at the home of his his neighbor Robert Covington. Zinkhan reportedly told Covington that there had been an emergency and would be gone for about an hour.

"Our first thoughts are for safety of the university community and for prompt apprehension of the person responsible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have been affected," University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams said in an official statement.

Matt Hardy, 22 years old, was at the scene of the crime, and had seen his friend Tom Tanner being shot twice. His father John Hardy commented to reporters that "at 22 you're not supposed to watch people die." Matt Hardy spoke to investigators and departed with his parents.

The university sent text messages and e-mails to students advising them of the potentially dangerous situation.

Police are requesting that anyone who comes in contact with the suspect dial 911 and exercise extreme caution. Zinkhan has been described as a 57-year-old Caucasian with a goatee-style beard and full mustache. He has blue eyes and brown hair worn above the ear according to his most recent photograph. He was reported to have been wearing blue shorts with a polo shirt at the time of the shooting, and he may be driving the red Jeep.


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