A man affectionately known in his neighborhood as “Uncle Ronnie” died at home early Tuesday morning after being shot during a home invasion.
“I can’t tell you how shocked I am about this,” next-door neighbor Melvenia Howard said. “He would give anybody anything, so why would they do this?”
Shortly after midnight, authorities were called to the home in the 2300 block of Naples Drive, where 47-year-old Ronald Irvin had lived for more than 25 years, after his sister called for help.
The woman told authorities she had been in a back bedroom when she heard someone kick in the front door and start shooting, said Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew. Irvin was shot in his upper body; he was pronounced dead at 1 a.m.
Another man in the house was taken to the hospital after being hit in the head. Authorities said he is a person of interest, but his name is not being released.
The incident was at least the second homicide of the 24 this year in Richmond County that occurred during a home invasion, although “home invasion” is a general term used by law enforcement to define “a burglary combined with a violent crime,” Sgt. Dan Carrier said.
In many cases, Carrier said, he finds home invasions are planned for times when people will be home, but in other cases, it’s a result of burglars thinking the home was vacant.
Authorities are not discussing a motive for the attack. Chew said it was not evident whether anything was stolen.
Howard was in her bedroom when she heard three shots. She didn’t realize the shots came from next door until police arrived.
She had come to love her longtime neighbor, who helped take in her groceries and cut her grass. When she was hospitalized, he kept watch over her house. When she was released from the hospital, he went over to check on her while her husband was at work.
“He was good to everybody who knocked on that door,” she said.
A lot of people were knocking on that door Tuesday. One was Benjamin Ready.
“He took care of a lot of people in Barton Village. He let people stay in his house,” Ready said.
“Uncle Ronnie,” who retired from the Army after serving two tours in Iraq, had a reputation for helping people in the neighborhood find jobs and get back on their feet, neighbor Tonya Felton said. If they needed it, Irvin would take them back and forth from their job.
Neighbors said Irvin was disabled because of an injury at his last job.
Eight of this year’s 24 homicides remain unsolved.