The shooting of two Fort Gordon military police officers followed an allegation that one of them choked a girl, whose brother called the men now charged with murder.
Former Evans High basketball star Tony Davis fought with one of the soldiers, DeAngelo Hudgins, before Hudgins was shot, Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said.
Davis also called Erik Williams Jr., 20, and Edwin Cruz, 21, who are now charged in Hudgins' death, and asked for their help.
"I don't think (Davis) said, 'Come shoot these guys,' or 'Come kill these guys,' " Peebles said. "I think they just said to come help."
Davis said he had shoved Hudgins, knocking him to the ground, but only because he was defending his sister.
"Earlier that night, he (Hudgins) had choked my sister out," Davis said. "My girlfriend called me crying and screaming."
Davis said he arrived at a gathering in Sanctuary Apartments in Augusta and saw Hudgins in the street arguing with his girlfriend.
"He was really drunk," Davis said of Hudgins. "He ran up on me, and I pushed him."
Hudgins and fellow MP Albert Gilbert then left. Davis said he called Williams and Cruz.
In the meantime, Hudgins and Gilbert returned, Davis said, and beat on his girlfriend's front door, demanding to speak with Davis.
"As soon as we heard the beating on the door, we called the police," Davis said. "Five minutes later, we heard the gunshots. I automatically think to myself, 'It was E.J. (Williams).' "
Seven people have been connected to the July 18 shooting of the two military police officers.
Davis was one of five charged with making false statements to police.
"We were all scared, the whole group of us," said Davis, 18. "We were scared for our lives. ...
"How can I snitch on these guys with them all out on the loose? It was a long time before I ever stepped out of my door. It put me in a bad predicament."
Davis said he admitted to Peebles that he had lied when he said he had not called Williams and Cruz.
Police arrested Williams, 20, and Cruz, 21, in the shooting death of Hudgins on Thursday.
Gilbert, 25, was shot in the stomach and suffered a fractured hip. On Friday, he said he's still recovering, physically and emotionally.
"We were best friends," he said of Hudgins.
Others charged with making false statements included Davis' 19-year-old sister Shardae Davis, of the 500 block of Wendover Way; his 19-year-old girlfriend, Jasmine Johnson, of the 5000 block of Sanctuary Drive; Trenee Johnson, 20, also of the 5000 block of Sanctuary Drive; and Crystal Pryear, 18, of the 1300 block of Wickham Court. All were released on bond Friday, according to Richmond County jailers.
Columbia County authorities originally discovered the gun used in the shootings Aug. 6 after stopping a vehicle for running a red light. Officers searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana, according to an incident report.
The gun's serial number had been filed off, but officers determined the weapon had been stolen from a Martinez residence in November.
The juvenile driver admitted he got the weapon from Williams, police said. Tests at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta confirmed it was the one that killed Hudgins.
Gilbert said after he got shot, it seemed as though there was "a time lapse." Covered in blood, he ran to the girls' apartment for help. He said he asked them to call 911, but they wouldn't.
"They were too hysterical," he said.
He couldn't remember what happened between when he was shot and when he ran to the apartment.
Gilbert said he had to call 911 from his cell phone while lying on the living room floor. It wasn't until he was placed in the ambulance that he saw Hudgins again and realized they had both been shot.
Peebles said authorities don't believe that Davis meant for anyone to get hurt.
"There's no indication that (Davis) called anybody to come and kill anybody or shoot anybody," Peebles said. "They (Williams and Cruz) go over there because they know there is an altercation. They've got a handgun. They don't really know what's going on, but they're going to help their friend, Tony."
Gilbert said Friday he was troubled that no one would confess to authorities what had happened that night.
"It upset me because why wouldn't you want to help another American and find the killer?" he said.
Evans High basketball coach Kevin Kenny said he was unsure Friday how this incident might affect Davis' college basketball career. Davis signed a letter of intent in May to play at East Georgia College in Swainsboro.
East Georgia Assistant Director of Athletics Neil Bailey refused to comment Friday on Davis' future at the junior college.