Originally created 07/12/97

Suspect turns self in after murder of 83-year-old grandmother



The 19-year-old man suspected of murdering an 83-year-old Augusta grandmother turned himself in to Richmond County authorities Friday night.

Terry Holmes has been charged with the murder of Rosa Lee Barnes, of 1034 8th Ave.

Early Friday morning, Daryl Moore crawled along the ground in front of his grandmother's house as a hail of bullets flew over his head. When the chaos ceased, his grandmother lay dead inside her home.

"We believe this to be the result of a drug war between two people in the drug business," said Deputy Chief Ronald Strength. "We are certain that one of those people was not that 83-year-old grandmother."

Richmond County sheriff's deputies are searching for Terry Holmes, 19. They are charging him with murder, said Chief Strength.

It is the second murder to occur at the 8th Avenue home. Just last March, Phillip Beard, 43, was shot to death in a drive-by shooting while standing in front of the same house, Chief Strength said.

The target of both shootings was Mark Moore, 22, one of Mrs. Barnes' grandsons, said Chief Strength. He lived in the home with his grandmother and mother, Ethel "Linda" Moore, police said.

Mrs. Barnes was shot twice in the neck and once in the chest. She was already dead when police arrived at her home shortly after 1 a.m. Investigators don't know what kind of gun was used, but family members said it was some kind of rifle.

More than a dozen bullet holes now riddle the small gray house where Mrs. Barnes lived for 50 years or more.

Mrs. Barnes had just said goodnight to Daryl Moore when two men in a white car rounded the corner and saw him.

"I had just stepped out the house, I was looking for my ride. If I hadn't stepped out the house, if they hadn't seen me come out, they wouldn't have started shooting," said Daryl Moore, pointing to hand and knee prints he'd left in the dirt earlier that morning. "My grandmother wasn't finished with life, she had some more living to do.

"I don't know who they're trying to get but they've got some wrong information," said Mr. Moore. "My grandma put this fence up trying to keep the drug dealers out of her yard. They just need to know whoever they trying to hit don't live here," he added.

Before the shooting, Mrs. Barnes had been talking and laughing with her children and grandchildren. Many had left to go pick up something to eat only minutes prior to the shooting.

Mrs. Barnes suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis and needed a cane to help her get around sometimes. But she stayed busy- planting flowers and cooking, said family members.

They said Mrs. Barnes was loved by the entire neighborhood. She was known as the neighborhood grandmother and was called "Big Mamma" by residents in the Turpin Hill Community where she lived. She used to run a corner grocery that sat behind her house.

"If people were hungry and didn't have money or anything to eat, she'd give them stuff on credit or for free," said Janet Brown, Mrs. Barnes' granddaughter and one of 15 family members that gathered at Mrs. Barnes' home Friday afternoon.

"She was a very sweet, loving person. She was a living angel," said Ms. Brown. "She tried to help anybody that asked her for help. She would have even helped those boys that killed her.

Although Mr. Beard was killed in Mrs. Barnes' front yard, family members said she didn't know him.

"He was an innocent by-stander too. This is their second time coming by here," said Josie Byrd, one of Mrs. Barnes' 11 children, referring to those responsible for the shootings. "That last time my sister got shot up, she was inside the house too. She stayed in the hospital over a week and still walks with a cane. I guess they'll keep coming until they get who they want to get."