UPDATE: Late in the day Thursday, Bryan Anthony Rhoden of Georgia was arrested for killing Paul Pierson, Henry Valdez and Gene Siller at the Pinetree Country Club. Rhoden was placed in custody by police in Chamblee, Chief Tim Cox said in a press conference. According to Cox, Rhoden has “ties to the metro Atlanta area.” Rhoden has been charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping.
The Pinetree Country Club shooting has shaken members of the golf club, but the suspect’s name has still not been revealed. The three victims – Paul Pierson, Henry Valdez and golf pro Gene Siller – have all been identified.
According to Cobb County Police, the golf pro was on his way to the 10th hole on his country club’s golf course when he stumbled on an active crime, before an unidentified shooter opened fire, shooting Gene Siller in the head. The 46-year-old was left on the green, next to a white pickup truck, with two bodies left in its bed.
Police were quick to identify 76-year-old Paul Pierson from Kansas, who was the registered owner of the Ram 3500 pickup. Henry Valdez, 46, from California, was the third victim to be identified. Both men were stuffed in the bed of the truck and suffered fatal gunshot wounds.
The gunman is still on the loose and police have yet to name any suspects, though according to Kennesaw State University, the shooter is “a Hispanic Male,” around “6’1” and 170 lbs” and was “last seen wearing a white T-shirt.” When police were contacted regarding the suspect’s appearance, however, they denied having a description.
There is no obvious connection between the two victims, Paul Pierson and Henry Valdez, though police confirmed the two were from out-of-state and have no known links to the area or the country club. According to a family friend, Pierson has a business in Atlanta, though it isn’t clear if he and Valdez knew each other. It’s unknown whether Gene Siller stumbled upon the active killing of the two victims in the truck, or if he had witnessed a separate crime.
Witnesses, who were playing golf at the time of Siller’s murder, claim they heard five or six gunshots, though Gene Siller only sustained one bullet to the head. Police are still trying to figure out if the other two men were murdered at Pinetree Country Club, or if their bodies were transferred there via the Ram 3500 pickup.
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the triple homicide. According to reports, a few days before the tragic incident, Gene Siller had confronted a man who was fishing on the golf course. Siller was forced to call the police on the individual after the man became agitated at Siller’s request. Police have not commented on whether the incidents are related.
“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,” police admitted in a statement.
According to Corey Evans, an instructor at the country club, Gene Siller had only stopped by on Saturday to remind staff that the driving range would be used for a fireworks display on July 4. Evans claimed he was off-shift when Siller confronted his shooter.
Pinetree Country Club’s golf course was closed following the incident but reponed Wednesday. Siller’s wife, Ashley Siller, placed flowers at the 10th hole as a tribute to her husband, who was a pro golfer and worked as director of golf at the country club.
Evans claimed that the club was “thriving” under Siller’s leadership and that the club has had “the most members” it has ever had. The Georgia State Golf Association maintained its praise for Siller. In a statement via Twitter, the association wrote that “all of us at the GSGA are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred earlier today at Pinetree CC. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gene Siller’s family and friends.”
Gene Siller was well-liked and “treated everyone with respect,” according to Sebastian Schutte, a long-time friend of Siller’s. A GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral costs and support the family during this difficult time. Siller leaves behind two children, ages 6 and 7, as well as a wife.
The GoFundMe page has reached over $650,000, with donations spread across nearly 4,800 donors. “We are asking for donations to help Gene’s precious family in this terrible time of need,” the GoFundMe post reads. “Please keep Gene’s family as well as his Pinetree family in your prayers.”