A 16th birthday party for one of James Brown's grandchildren ended tragically Saturday in the shooting death of an employee of the Columbia County facility where the party was held.
James S. Gillette Jr., 19, of Kensington Drive in Augusta, was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he was taken after being shot at Belair Conference Center, Columbia County Chief Deputy Coroner Bonnie Holloway said.
Gillette had worked at the private facility off Jimmie Dyess Parkway for about two months, Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.
The shooting took place after fighting broke out, Morris said. About 200 to 300 people were in attendance, and there was no known security, he said.
Patrons had been asked to leave because of the fighting but were being allowed back inside when shots were fired, Morris said. One of them hit Gillette, who collapsed just outside the building's front door, he said.
Morris did not know what the victim was doing at the time he was shot or whether he was the intended target.
Deanna Brown, a daughter of the soul singer, confirmed Sunday that the party was being held for her niece. Brown said she did not attend the event and had no other information.
After the shooting, several people were seen leaving in two vehicles, both of which were riding on at least one "donut" spare tire, Morris said. Authorities have a partial ID on one of the suspects, a black male known as "DQ," but had made no arrests as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
The suspects' vehicles were a blue or dark gray minivan with spares on both rear tires and a silver-colored Toyota or Chevrolet Impala with a spare on a rear tire, Morris said. The sedan also had a broken passenger window covered with plastic, he said.
Gillette suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and his body was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy, according to Holloway.