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Family: Crime spree that left 2 dead, 3 hurt stem from dispute over spiked drink

Austin Tyler is accused of killing one man and shooting three others before killing himself after a carjacking and crash in Bartow County, deputies said.
Austin Tyler is accused of killing one man and shooting three others before killing himself after a carjacking and crash in Bartow County, deputies said.Bartow County Sheriff's Office

Days after two men were killed and four injured in a crime spree in Bartow County, the sister of one of the victims who became paralyzed said the incident started over an argument about drugs. And investigators on Friday released more details on the crime including that the suspect shot at 12 others within minutes and that the pistol used had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Euharlee in June.

Beth Thacker said Wednesday that her brother, who is now paralyzed, told her the incident started because of an argument between the suspect, 20-year-old Austin Denzell Tyler, and one of the victims after Tyler allegedly claimed he spiked their drinks with a drug while at the home on Brent Circle Tuesday, according to WSB-TV.

“The kid was bragging about putting something in his drink, and he said something to him, and when he said something to him that’s when he (Tyler) lashed out on everybody,” she told the news station.

Investigators did confirm that this incident started from an argument between Tyler and one of the shooting victims on Brent Circle. But they did not say what the argument was about.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Bartow County 911 Center began to receive calls of a man shooting persons at a home on Brent Circle, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies and EMS had responded to the scene when other calls began to come in to 911 about the shooter leaving and shooting at other persons, Sheriff Clark Millsap said.

The 911 Center received more than 10 emergency calls giving information about the shooter and his locations and actions, the sheriff said. Tyler, of Cartersville, had fired a pistol at a total of 12 persons and pointed his gun at several others during his 12 to15 minute rampage, Millsap said.

Tyler then drove to Milam Bridge Road in Euharlee where he shot at two men, grazing the hand of an 18-year-old and missing the other, Millsap said. He attempted to carjack two vehicles before ramming into a victim and his grandson on River Oaks Drive in Euharlee and taking their Ford Explorer Sport TRAC, the sheriff said.

Responding officers spotted Tyler in the Ford on Euharlee Road at Ga. 113 in Cartersville and began to pursue him as he travelled on the wrong side of the road, Millsap said. The Ford struck a landscape trailer on the highway at Burnt Hickory Road and burst into flames, he said.

Deputies removed Tyler from the vehicle to begin first aid, but Tyler had shot himself in the head and was pronounced dead at Cartersville Medical Center, Millsap said.

Royce Randy Hobgood, 63, Euharlee, died after being shot at Brent Circle and two others, who were critically wounded at the home, were transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, deputies said.

Thacker's brother, Steven Teitsort, was shot in the neck and leg, while the other man was shot in the stomach, according to the news station. Teitsort told his sister from the hospital that Hobgood had tried to come to his defense.

"He said Pops took up for him, and when he took up for him that's when he up and point-blank shot and killed him,” Thacker said.

The Bartow County Sheriff’s Office is waiting on toxicology results that have been ordered for Austin, according to media reports.