Man shot after stopping robber

Mike Murphy was awakened from a sound sleep by gunshots -- two of them in fast succession: "Pop, pop."

Startled, he was almost out of bed when he heard five or six more: "Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop."

Murphy stepped outside and onto the short concrete patio outside his apartment. Others at Merrick Place apartments were coming outside to investigate the noise when a woman screamed.

Murphy turned his head and saw it was his neighbor's girlfriend. She was standing beside a man lying on his side in the grass, bleeding from his head.

Murphy hurried over and saw it was his neighbor, Wayne Eggins Jr. Eggins grabbed Murphy's ankle and pointed toward the complex's entrance on Skinner Mill Road.

"He was gasping for air, trying to say something," Murphy said Friday afternoon, recounting what had taken place about 12:30 that morning.

One neighbor who is a nurse took off her shirt and pressed it to the head wound. Within minutes, deputies arrived and roped off the area with crime-scene tape. Paramedics took Eggins, 24, to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

For the next several hours, sheriff's investigators pieced together the crime. Witnesses told them that Eggins had arrived home from work for Vern's Towing Co. and saw two men trying to break into one of the apartments.

Eggins confronted the men and had one of them pinned to the ground while he talked with police dispatchers when the shots were fired, investigators say. Only one bullet struck Eggins, but it's a critical injury to the head, sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said.

The burglars drove to the adjacent apartment complex, where witnesses noticed them acting suspiciously right after they heard shots, Peebles said.

Their information, paired with what others saw, led to the arrest of Stanley Fields, 18, of the 1900 block of Wrightsboro Road, around 1 p.m., Peebles said.

A 16-year-old male, whose identity was not released, was arrested at 8:15 p.m. and taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center.

Both suspects were charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime and two counts of criminal attempted burglary.

Murphy said Eggins is from Arizona and moved here about a year ago. He is working for Vern's Towing while his girlfriend studies to be a pharmaceutical technician.

Staff Writer Bianca Cain contributed to this article.