A 34-year-old man shot and killed a 72-year-old man he thought was a prowler on Wednesday in Walker County, Ga. But instead of shooting a prowler, Joe Hendrix shot Ronald Westbrook, an elderly man with advanced Alzheimer's disease.
According to Sheriff Steve Wilson, at the time of the shooting, Westbrook had been wandering lost and confused for over four hours, wearing only a light jacket in sub-freezing temperatures and walking his two dogs. At around 2:30 a.m., Westbrook was stopped by a sheriff's deputy as he stood in front of a mailbox; he told the deputy he was just checking his mail and that he lived up the hill. In fact, Westbrook had lived at the home years before.
The sheriff left and at 4:00 a.m., Westbrook rang the doorbell and tried to open the front door of a nearby home. Hendrix, who had just moved into the home two weeks before, woke up to the noise and his fiancé called 911 to report the disturbance. She spoke with the dispatcher for around 10 minutes but before help arrived, Hendrix went outside with a .40 caliber handgun and saw the elderly man's silhouette outside the house. Hendrix gave Westbrook a command to stop moving and when he did not, Hendrix fired four shots, killing the elderly man with fatal shot in the chest.
When Westbrook was killed, he was still holding the mail he had retrieved from the other home.
No charges have been filed against Hendrix and according to Wilson, Hendrix is "saddened and heartbroken" and will have to "live with his actions for the rest of his life."
Westbrook's family did not know he was missing until around the time the shooting occurred.
[Screenshot via WRCB]