Inside the two-story home on Clairidge Lane, police found the dead and the dying. Atania Butler, 28; her 11-year-old daughter; and Rico Zimmerman, 19, lay dead of gunshot wounds. Lakeisha Parker, 30, was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center. She later died.
The 4-year-old, also Butler’s daughter, was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite for surgery. Police have released neither her name nor her condition.
Within hours, police posted an alert for 44-year-old Richard T. Ringold, saying he was armed and dangerous. Authorities believe he was Butler’s boyfriend.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said investigators believe the incident started out as a domestic dispute but quickly escalated into the county’s biggest multi-victim slaying in more than two decades. Ringold apparently began an argument with Butler in the front yard, pulled a gun, took her inside and shot her, Porter said.At the risk of sounding repetitive, we have to emphasize once again that domestic violence is not just a private family matter. Friends and family members of victims and even innocent bystanders are regularly caught in the cross hairs. Police consider domestic violence calls to be some of the most dangerous to which to respond because of the degree of violence of which abusers are often capable. This is why planning for your safety while in or while leaving an abusive relationship is so vitally important. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please contact our 24-hour hotline at (404) 688-9436 or the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to make your plan.
Phil Wiley, chief assistant district attorney, said investigators believe Butler lived in the home with her two children. Parker was her friend and just happened to be there. Investigators are unsure how Zimmerman knew the victims, but it was his girlfriend who escaped the home and called 911, he said.
“She said when he came in, he just started opening fire and started shooting at everybody,” Wiley said.