Across the area

Police arrest suspect in fatal motel shooting


A man was arrested Saturday in a fatal shooting that morning at a motel.

Nathaniel Smith, 24, of Walnut Street, was charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to jail records.

The killing occurred about 4:35 a.m. at Riverside Inn, 954 Fifth St., according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office dispatcher.

The victim was identified as Gary Bernard Gregory, 46, of East Taylor Street, said Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald.

Mr. Gregory was shot in the head, Mr. McDonald said based on preliminary findings. His body was found by an acquaintance who was visiting his room, according to the sheriff's office.

He was declared dead at 5:40 a.m. His body is at the GBI Crime Lab on Phinizy Road, where an autopsy will likely be performed today, Mr. McDonald said.

Deputies arrested Mr. Smith about 11 a.m. when they raided a home in the 200 block of Aragon Drive. Investigators have not determined a motive, but Mr. McDonald said robbery is a possibility.

Mr. Gregory's relatives said he had a large sum of money on him, Mr. McDonald said.

Teenager drowns in lake

A teenage boy drowned Saturday afternoon while swimming in Thurmond Lake at Wildwood Park near Appling, according to authorities.

The 17-year-old, whose name authorities won't release until family members have been contacted, was swimming with three friends, said Columbia County deputy coroner Bonnie Holloway.

"He just kind of went out above his head, and he panicked," she said.

Emergency services received a call about a possible drowning about 3:10 p.m., according to dive team spokeswoman Honey Shore. A member of the county's Dive Rescue Recovery Team found the body about 4:15 p.m., Ms. Shore said.

Foul play is not suspected, Ms. Holloway said.