Georgia man shoots, kills wandering Alzheimer's patient

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 6:56 PM
Last updated 9:34 PM
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WALKER COUNTY, Ga. — In a case that could renew the debate over stand-your-ground laws, authorities in northwest Georgia say one man shot and killed another after the shooter felt threatened by a 72-year-old who turned out to be a wandering Alzheimer's patient.



Walker County authorities told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1bXSw3m ) that the victim, Ronald Westbrook, walked about three miles in the sub-freezing temperatures before knocking on Joe Hendrix's door just before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Hendrix's fiancee didn't answer, instead calling police. But before deputies arrived, Sheriff Steve Wilson said, Hendrix went into the back yard with his handgun, where he saw Westbrook in silhouette.

Wilson said Hendrix, 34, recalled giving Westbrook several verbal commands, but the advanced Alzheimer's patient — who was wearing a light jacket and a straw hat with temperatures in the low 20s — didn't respond. Hendrix then fired four shots, the fatal bullet hitting entering Westbrook's chest.

No charges were filed, but Wilson said local prosecutors could pursue a criminal case once they review evidence.

"We reserve our options and rights to file charges once the investigation is complete, if we feel like Georgia law warrants charges being filed," Wilson told the newspaper.

Westbrook's family declined to comment.

Wilson said he believes Hendrix should have stayed inside the house, but added that the shooter didn't violate any laws by walking out into his own yard.

Georgia's self-defense law generally allows a person to use force when they have reason to believe they are under a physical threat. The law does not necessarily require a person to retreat from a perceived threat even if backing down is possible. That's a distinction from traditional self-defense laws that gave homeowners wide latitude to defend themselves inside their residences, while typically requiring someone in any other location to seek ways to back down without resorting to violent action.

"Mr. Hendrix is clearly saddened and heartbroken," the sheriff said. "Mr. Hendrix has to live with his actions for the rest of his life."

Wilson said a sheriff's deputy had stopped Westbrook earlier in the night standing at a mailbox on nearby Marble Top Road, where Westbrook once lived. Westbrook told the deputy he was getting his mail.

When officers reached Westbrook on Hendrix's property, the slain man was clutching the envelopes he'd taken from his old neighborhood.

Comments (20) Add comment
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nocnoc
49547
Points
nocnoc 11/28/13 - 07:54 pm
7
1
Sad situation for both families.

We understand how and why this could happen.

Our family recently had an older family member with Alzheimer’s that past away. We also found keeping him under constant observation and controlling his safe movements impossible, because he continued to think he knew better about what to do, than his family of willing caretakers.

A Major Gripe The Family Has with GA.
As we were figuring out what his medical problem was at the VA.
The VA Doctors issued an official statement stating he could no longer drive. The GA Driver License people REFUSED to pull his extended year license, or ask for a retest.

He was buried this year after 2 years in a nursing home and he still has VALID GA Drivers License that will not expire for another few years.

just an opinion
2951
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just an opinion 11/28/13 - 08:24 pm
6
2
Self defense? Or just scared?

Feared for his life? Or just scared? Proper training? Or just scared?

nocnoc
49547
Points
nocnoc 11/28/13 - 09:00 pm
7
2
Having seen both sides

Even a properly trained person such as a Combat Vet or a retired police officer might have shot the intruder at O dark 4am in the morning, if the person came up on them suddenly.

Remember Attackers only need a second of surprise to take control.
So the person defending their family has even less time to evaluate and determine a reaction and do it.

With Alzheimer’s & Autism cases increasing in the USA, over the last 30 years. I am hoping they discover the cause(s) and fix the reasons.

Current Numbers
Autism 1 in 88 children living in the US - it was 1 in 128 just 10 years ago.

Alzheimer's 1 in about 4 over 60y/o - it was 1 in about 25 just 20 years ago, also now is the 6th leading cause of death 60 and older.

I personally feel both are Environmental and Medical Chain related issues.

itsanotherday1
48407
Points
itsanotherday1 11/28/13 - 09:12 pm
8
1
Very sad. Not so sure I would

Very sad. Not so sure I would have gone outside and shot someone though. Police had been called and the homeowner was under no direct threat had they stayed inside.

I am sure it is heart wrenching for the shooter too.

studmuffin1533
305
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studmuffin1533 11/28/13 - 09:20 pm
5
1
Alzheimer's & Related...

There are 200,000 Alzheimer's patients in Georgia. For 2013, the governor struck the $200k to support Alzheimer's care from the budget. Yes, $1 per patient. 350 Alzheimer's caregivers descended at one time on the state capitol last March wearing purple and walked the halls of the capitol building. Got that $2000k restored the next day!
One out of every four seniors with Alzheimer's or related dementias lives alone.

itsanotherday1
48407
Points
itsanotherday1 11/28/13 - 11:15 pm
11
1
studmuffin

I fear Alzheimers more than cancer. It robs one of their mind, which is their "being". Once Alzheimers hits that latter stage, the person does not exist any longer, just the shell of the body that once housed them. In the transitional period between self awareness, reasonably normal cognition, and loss of; it can be a nightmare of terror for the victim. Then there is the emotional toll on loved ones and caregivers as this once bright person fades away.
Awful, just awful disease. It gets overlooked somewhat in favor of the more fashionable things like AIDS, a disease that is self inflicted for the majority.

Bodhisattva
7301
Points
Bodhisattva 11/29/13 - 04:54 am
3
15
Police are on the way and

Police are on the way and you're locked in your house and well armed. It would take more than a second of surprise for someone to take control. Of course this guy does the intelligent thing and unlocks the door and goes outside (I say with much sarcasm.)These laws need to be changed and changed now. They've become the macho idiot with a gun pass on manslaughter laws. The law doesn't require to retreat? How about at least adding to these stupid laws that people can't advance. We see how the model citizen Zimmerman is getting along after stalking someone while armed and murdering them. We can thank good ol' Jim Whitehead for co-sponsoring this piece of trash law. I wonder if the guys who voted for it feel like they need to wash the blood off their hands when things like this happen or if they don't really care? My money is on the 2nd option. If it's not about money and appeasing the wealthy and corporations, and if it remotely protects the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the needy they don't care at all. They're not the ones who donate to campaigns or help them line their pockets with government contracts and the like.

myfather15
57269
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myfather15 11/29/13 - 06:44 am
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1
First of all, I must agree;

This idiot shooter didn't make a good decision. I have no idea why he decides to go outside to confront this guy when the police have already been called. Now, if the guy was still trying to get in the house; I don't have a problem with these actions. But going out in the yard to confront this person is over-zealous, in my opinion.

But, NO WAY should the law be done away with, because of a few idiots!! You mean I can't protect myself, with common sense reasoning, because someone else decided to make a stupid decision? So, because George Zimmerman and a few other's MIGHT have made poor decisions, YOU are willing to strip my rights to protect myself?

In that case, maybe the governement should put restrictions on how fast ALL Automobiles have the ability to be driven; because people make stupid decisions every day on their driving!! Maybe the Federal Government should place speed governors on ALL vehicles; where they can't drive over 55 miles per hour. Do you honestly know how many lives this would save, every year?? Maybe the government should ban ladders, because every year, hundreds of people die from falls from ladders.

Are you willing to shut down ALL abortion clinics, because there are a few breaking the law??? Give an honest answer.

myfather15
57269
Points
myfather15 11/29/13 - 06:53 am
6
2
Leftists and their disgusting hyporcrisy!!

"If it's not about money and appeasing the wealthy and corporations, and if it remotely protects the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the needy they don't care at all."

Makes me want to PUKE, how the left uses this class warfare to press their agenda!! Further dividing and seperating the people, because DIVISION, is exactly what they need!! The LEFT has done absolutely NOTHING to help the poor and needy; but they still say things like Bodhisattva just posted.

The left politicians are just as bad or worse than the right, when it comes to helping their buddies with BIG WALETS!! George Soros, Warrent Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Jeffrey Immelt and many, many more are all hard leftists and get those evil breaks from the government; AND all the sweetheart deals from Barack Obama!!

CobaltGeorge
176805
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/29/13 - 07:10 am
6
2
myfather

Never once have I ever disagreed with any comment you have made.

Ever word that you print is always 100% correct, factual and completely made with Common Sense.

It is always a pleasure reading them.

For the life of me, I will never understand how someone like Bod can think and comment like he does.

seenitB4
98472
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seenitB4 11/29/13 - 08:05 am
6
1
Sad situation for all

In todays world with out of control crime & breakins who can say what the shooter thought.....we have had innocent looking teens break in a home when the homeowner offered a cell phone through the screen door....they assaulted the woman & her husband & stole as much as they could....
When these incidents happen nearby it causes panic & fear....the homeowners are on edge & jumpy.......some sales guys were told to stay away from this area afterwards.....folks went to their door holding a gun.......when crime stops these incidents will too.

robert2410
1628
Points
robert2410 11/29/13 - 08:12 am
8
2
Well Bod, my guess is
Unpublished

Well Bod, my guess is Zimmermann is at least as much a model citizen as all those innocent victims playing knockout. I don't see you moaning about that any, my guess is you approve of it because the victims are white. This is part of the reason I consider Zimmerman somewhat a hero and rejoice at what happened to Travon. If only more would meet his fate.

ymnbde
10752
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ymnbde 11/29/13 - 08:22 am
7
2
Boshisvatta, you should "wash the blood" off your own hands

liberals created an unsafe world where people correctly feel their lives
constantly need protecting from criminals
liberals coddle criminals, and don't educate people well enough
to get jobs
liberals made stand your ground laws necessary
now you're using the "collateral damage" of what you made necessary
the tragic death of an Alzheimer's afflicted man
to your own political advantage
bloody hands indeed

seenitB4
98472
Points
seenitB4 11/29/13 - 08:35 am
6
1
Funny thing

The very posters who protest this shooting don't say a dang thing about the knockouts....why is that?

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 11/29/13 - 09:16 am
5
0
Best defense is a good

Best defense is a good offense and finding fault with someone's actions after the fact, as well as from the sidelines altogether, is a flawed methodology. Alot of things could have happened different, but they didn't. At the end of the day, the extraordinary variable was the poor soul with dementia, not the shooter. Sucks, but life sucks at times.

harley_52
26074
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harley_52 11/29/13 - 09:30 am
4
1
"The very posters who protest this shooting....

....don't say a dang thing about the knockouts....why is that?"

Maybe because they don't have first hand experience and are, therefore, not entitled to an opinion.

seenitB4
98472
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seenitB4 11/29/13 - 09:54 am
4
0
Don't be a meanie harley

That is not like you.....dichotomy explained what I needed to know....

harley_52
26074
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harley_52 11/29/13 - 10:13 am
1
0
Meanie?

Hardly.

I'm just trying to understand your qualifications for consideration of comments on these issues.

Is first hand experience with an issue a necessity, or a preferred option?

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 11/29/13 - 10:45 am
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It just gives the commenter

It just gives the commenter more perceived credibility H

harley_52
26074
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harley_52 11/29/13 - 10:57 am
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0
"Perceived Credibility"

I understand your point. I'm curious, however, whether anybody thinks someone who previously lived in (or currently lives in) any of America's poor, decayed, blighted neighborhoods, or communities, necessarily has a better understanding of WHY their neighborhood has so diminished than an "outsider" who lacks that specific qualification, but has watched and reflected upon these things happening around the country?

It's the old "forest for the trees" analogy.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 11/29/13 - 11:33 am
0
0
bod must
Unpublished

reside in the ghetto. For him/her to be so familiar with some stranger being in their yard at 4 a.m. can be the only explanation. God bless Mr. Westbrook's soul and his family but if someone I don't know knocks on my door at 4 a.m. and doesn't respond to my questions or commands, remains on MY property. goodbye permanently.

myfather15
57269
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myfather15 11/29/13 - 03:55 pm
3
0
I agree Harley;

It's doesn't take someone who has "Been there" on THIS particular issue. It's actually pretty simple to understand why these neighborhoods have diminished and such things as "Knock out games" are happening.

The most important is the break down of the family. I'm not going to find stats at the moment, but look how many of these children are being raised by single mothers. Another result of the "do what feels good" liberal society, in my opinion. Don't worry about responsibility, do whatever you want!! Feel free to do drugs, alcohol, inappropriate behavior, overt sexual displays (Hello Miley Cyrus). Don't worry about the consequences at home (your children); just keep having FUN!! Hey, and teach them to have fun too!!

Liberals have attacked traditional families, traditional values, God, The Bible; all in an attempt to make the "alternative lifestyles" the "norm". They are getting more and more bold with it every day; under the disguise of "diversity".

My family was watching the Macy's Parade yesterday; did anyone else noticed the group of CROSS DRESSERS singing "Be what you want to be." WELL I DID!!! I immediately turned it off, and didn't turn it back on!!

They are getting more BOLD every single day with their ridiculous behavior!! And we wonder WHY society has gotten this way? We wonder WHY teens are out here knocking people out?

The reason is; BECAUSE WE WON'T STAND STRONG AGAINST IT!!!!!!

harley_52
26074
Points
harley_52 11/29/13 - 04:26 pm
3
0
"The most important is the break down of the family."

I agree completely.

There's a reason they want to diminish the family. Quite simply, they see a strong family as a competitor to a strong government. They want to teach children that their fathers and mothers aren't as concerned with their well-being as is the government. The government seeks to gain control of children at a very early age and teach them the "government view" (meaning leftist view) of history, sociology, business, and even "religion," which they replace with adoration for left-wing personalities and agendas.

It's not an accident that Hilary Clinton's book was named "It Takes A Village," that's what lefties believe. Parents are too stupid and to misguided to raise their own children. They push their points home by teaching the children their parents are "bigots," or "racists," or "homophobes," or "gun nuts," or otherwise unfit to raise the kids because in most cases the parents' view of life is far different from that pushed by the government schools.

The family is the enemy of left-wing ideologues.

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