Morgan County law enforcement used recently-acquired ballistic shields to enter a Greensboro Highway residence after a man had allegedly threatened to kill workers at a nearby chicken house and had fired approximately 10 shots inside his home with a long rifle. Concerned neighbors heard the shots and “yelling” and called 911.
Six deputies, two with the shields, entered the residence on Tuesday, July 20, after authorities tried for approximately 15 minutes to convince the suspect to surrender.
According to Lt. Brandon Sellers, who was among the six that stormed the small house that sits in front of three Pilgrim’s Pride chicken houses, after deputies entered the residence, they located Robert Winston Palmer, 44, of Madison, standing half in, half out of a bedroom door. Deputies demanded Palmer show his hands and within seconds, Sellers said, he was detained and handcuffed. ”It was a textbook entry,” he said.
The arrest ended a tense standoff where, initially, deputies believed Palmer had shot several people working at the chicken houses because of a language barrier between the deputy and a worker.
Reports state that initially a Pilgrim Pride truck driver drove down a shared driveway with Palmer and the chicken houses to collect chickens for processing. A second driver said he noticed a wrecked motorcycle in the driveway when he pulled in and an abandoned motorcycle helmet on the road. That driver alleged that while he was attempting to reach the chicken houses, Palmer, who he said had one hand, “came running out of the yard, telling him to turn the (expletive) around and leave.”
When the two trucks were trying to leave, Palmer allegedly climbed up to the driver’s side door of one of the trucks and screamed obscenities at the driver. When the second driver exited his truck to confront Palmer, Palmer allegedly punched him in the eye, causing blood to erupt from his eye socket.
Palmer then turned to leave and allegedly said, “Y’all wait till I get back, I’ve got something for y’all’s a**es.”
Both drivers feared Palmer was referencing a firearm and drove to the end of the driveway and called 911.
As deputies arrived, a van sped up the driveway from the chicken houses. “I observed a Hispanic male, visibly panicked, run up to me stating, ‘He kill everybody,’” a deputy reported. The deputy stated that there was a language barrier and he was not sure if the man was trying to say that Palmer had shot multiple people or if he had threatened to shoot multiple people.
Two deputies raced to the chicken houses but found no gunshot victims nor a gunman.
Deputies began clearing structures near Palmer’s house and noted that there were gunshot holes in the outside of his house, facing the chicken houses.
According to Chief Deputy Keith Howard, members of the Madison Police Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and a canine handler with the Georgia Department of Corrections arrived at the scene.
Eventually 16 law enforcement officers surrounded the residence.
At that time, Sellers said, an officer used a vehicle public address system to request Palmer come out of the residence. “He would not,” Seller said.
Howard said authorities moved on the residence quickly, in part, because they were concerned someone else might be in the house with Palmer.
“We didn’t know if there was someone else in the house besides him that is hurt and needs help,” he said.
After deputies entered the residence and arrested Palmer, reports state, authorities located spent .308 caliber shells from the room where Palmer was arrested. They also confiscated a Heckler and Koch model 91 rifle, a 30.06 Remington rifle and a Marlin 917 bolt action rifle along with respective ammunition magazines.
Reports state that there were 10 bullet holes in the drywall of Palmer’s house and one of the shots had ruptured a water line. Sellers said when officers entered the residence, there was water covering the floors. All bullet holes in the house were in the direction of the chicken houses.
Palmer was arrested around 7:30 p.m.
Reports state that deputies reported that Palmer “smelled of the odor of alcohol and vomit.” Palmer allegedly told the deputies he shot the holes because he “was mad at himself.” The wrecked motorcycle in the driveway allegedly belonged to Palmer, reports state.
Howard praised both the cooperation with the Madison Police Department officers, DNR officers, and corrections officers to bring the situation to a peaceful resolve. He also said the officers who made the initial entry were protected by ballistic shields the county acquired in January. “We are very pleased with the investment of the ballistic shields,” he said. “They give an added layer of protection for our deputies.”
Palmer has been charged with battery, reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and remains detained at the Morgan County Detention Center.