Suspect arrested in deadly shooting of 3 men found at Georgia golf course, authorities say

Police on Thursday arrested a man in the shooting of three people at a Georgia country club this past weekend.

Cobb County sheriff’s deputies found the suspect, identified as Bryan Rhoden, in Chamblee, more than 25 miles southeast of where the men’s bodies were discovered Saturday, police chief Tim Cox said during a news conference Thursday evening.

Rhoden faces three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping, Cox said. The police chief described Rhoden as the “lone shooter” in the slayings but he declined to give further details about what prompted the violence.

“We literally had detectives that have worked around the clock and some have literally slept in their offices since July 3rd trying to clear this case,” Cox said.

The incident unfolded before 2:30 p.m. at the 10th hole of the Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw, about 25 miles north of Atlanta, on Saturday after a pickup truck drove onto the course.

Country club employee Eugene “Gene” Siller was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head, Cobb County police said. Upon further investigation, police found two other men dead in the bed of the truck.

They were identified by police as Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas, who was the registered owner of the truck, and Henry Valdez, 46, of California. 

The Cobb County Police Department said Siller was not targeted “but rather was killed because he witnessed an active crime taking place,” according to a statement sent to USA TODAY by department spokesman Wayne Delk.

Siller “happened upon a crime in progress” involving the suspect and the two dead men, who do not appear to have any relation to the country club, the department said.

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Police said there was no active threat to the public.

“We are aware that the public has many questions, the most pressing one being why this happened; however, it is too early in the investigation to speculate as to motive,” the department added.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Siller had gone to the 10th hole after a report of an unauthorized truck on the course.

Neighbor John Lavender told WAGA-TV he heard “five, six booms go off” and wasn’t sure whether it was gunshots or fireworks. “You just don’t think it’s gunshots in this area,” he said.

In a statement, PGA President Jim Richerson said the organization was “truly heartbroken to hear about the senseless murder.”

The Georgia PGA said Siller was a member of the group, and a GoFundMe page for his family identified him as a golf director of the club. The fundraiser had raised over $419,000 for his family as of Tuesday morning. 

Club member and golf radio host Brian Katrek told the Journal-Constitution that the club was flourishing under Siller’s direction. Siller joined Pinetree in 2019 and remained an active player, having tied for 61st at the Yamaha Atlanta Open hosted at the club last month, the newspaper reported.

“You’re at the club to escape everything else and Gene was there to help you enjoy your day,” Katrek told the newspaper. “Gene was entertaining more people every day than he ever had.”

The newspaper reported Siller had a wife and two sons.

Contributing: Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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