The 40-year-old man who shot four people in the country’s 31st mass killing this year needed mental help for nearly a decade but his family and officials couldn’t force him to get treatment, his mother said.
Andre Longmore walked through his neighborhood in the semi-rural suburb of Hampton, Georgia, on Saturday and fatally shot four neighbors, all older adults. The killings set off a massive search that ended Sunday with Longmore dead in a shootout in another suburb about 15 miles north of Hampton. The exchange of gunfire wounded a sheriff’s deputy and two police officers, who all were expected to recover.
Longmore had a “mental breakdown” in 2014, leading to an inpatient hospital stay, his mother Lorna Dennis, told WSB-TV on Sunday.
She said her son “kept deteriorating” but refused to seek medical attention, and that officials said they couldn’t force him to seek care.
“I feel so much for the families, and that’s why I just want to say I’m very, very sorry. I know words cannot really comfort them from me at this time, but I know there is a comforter, and they can refer to him at any time,” Dennis said.
The Army says Longmore was a sergeant, working as an automated logistical specialist from August 2000 to May 2006, overseeing supplies and equipment. He deployed to Afghanistan, served under hostile fire and was a trained parachutist, driver and mechanic.
Hampton Mayor Ann Tarpley announced Sunday that the city would hold a prayer vigil Monday for the four people who died in that city of 8,000 — Scott Leavitt, 67, and his wife, Shirley Leavitt, 66; Steve Blizzard, 65; and Ronald Jeffers, 66.
All four lived in the same subdivision as Longmore, where about 40 houses flank a lake on two streets about 25 miles south of Atlanta. Police and witnesses say Longmore shot the four within about 10 minutes on Saturday morning before stealing Blizzard’s SUV and fleeing.
Residents in the Dogwood Lakes subdivision were surprised that gun violence had come to their peaceful neighborhood, where houses with neatly kept yards cluster around a small lake.
“You could just tell he was a little out there,” Hannegan said. “He would tell people he was a prophet.”
The shootings marked the 31st mass killing of 2023, taking the lives of at least 153 people this year, according to a database maintained by The AP and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University.
Jeffers was remembered as a devoted member of his church. Sherry Wyatt, who works at Hampton’s recreation center near Jeffers’ home, said Jeffers would regularly come in to sing at the senior center that shares the building.
A few months ago, Jeffers came over to her side of the building to practice and she told him how beautiful his voice was.
Hampton is home to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Georgia’s racetrack for NASCAR events. The most recent homicide before Saturday in the town of 8,000 was in 2018, officials said.