Man arrested in DeKalb, charged in Cobb golf course killings

Bryan Anthony Rhoden, charged in 3 deaths, called ‘lone shooter’ by police chief
Bryan Anthony Rhoden was arrested Thursday in connection with the mysterious killings at an upscale Kennesaw golf course over Independence Day weekend.

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Combined ShapeCaption
Bryan Anthony Rhoden was arrested Thursday in connection with the mysterious killings at an upscale Kennesaw golf course over Independence Day weekend.

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Families in Cobb County anxious about the mysterious killings at an upscale Kennesaw golf course can breathe a sigh of relief. After five days with few developments in the case, a man suspected in the three deaths was captured Thursday afternoon.

Bryan Anthony Rhoden, 23, of Atlanta, was taken into custody in DeKalb County, more than 25 miles from Pinetree Country Club where golf pro Gene Siller, 46, was shot dead Saturday afternoon, according to Cobb officials. Rhoden is charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping, Cobb police Chief Tim Cox said during a hastily arranged news conference Thursday evening.

Few other details about the case were released, but Cox described Rhoden as the “lone shooter.”

Rhoden, a native of Florida, was arrested about 5:15 p.m. at Chamblee police headquarters, according to Eric Heinze, deputy commander of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Southeast Regional fugitive task force.

The Chamblee Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service were each involved in Rhoden’s capture, officials said. Rhoden was unarmed and arrested without incident in the course of the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. He did not turn himself in.

Siller, the country club’s director of golf, was shot and killed after Rhoden drove a white Dodge Ram pickup truck onto the Kennesaw golf course with two bodies in its bed, according to police. Investigators don’t believe Siller was targeted, but said he was shot when he went to investigate the truck on the 10th hole Saturday afternoon.

The two other victims found in the truck were later identified as Henry Valdez, 46, of Anaheim, California, and Paul Pierson, 76, of Topeka, Kansas, who owned the truck, according to Cobb officials. The men appeared to have no connection to the country club.

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Public documents reveal that Pierson spent much of his adult life in and around California’s Wine Country. He is listed as the director, president, treasurer and secretary of Eco Environmental Remediation Services, Inc., based in Nevada.

Detectives believe the three men were killed in the same area and within a short time frame, Cox said. Rhoden was identified as a potential suspect relatively early in the investigation and has ties to the metro Atlanta area, according to Cox.

His current address is listed as a Midtown Atlanta high-rise apartment, Cobb’s jail records show. The 23-year-old was a budding rapper who performed under the stage name “B. Rod,” according to his social media pages. Rhoden’s first mixtape “Made It Out” was released June 18.

“I put a lot of work into making my first tape as diverse as possible to show you there’s no limit to what I can do and appeal to everyone,” Rhoden said in an Instagram post that included a photo of the album cover.

Cox acknowledged that Rhoden had been arrested before but would not provide any details about his prior record.

Online jail records show Rhoden was arrested on several traffic charges in Chamblee late Saturday, hours after the three bodies were found on the course. Rhoden was arrested on misdemeanor charges of DUI, a headlight violation, fake ID, driving without insurance, driving an unregistered vehicle and using a license plate to conceal the identity of a vehicle, according to DeKalb County jail records. He was released on bond Tuesday evening, then arrested on the murder charges out of Cobb two days later.

Rhoden has been arrested before on violent crime charges. As an 18-year-old student at Georgia State University in early 2016, Rhoden and another man were charged in a double shooting that took place during an apparent drug deal, the AJC previously reported.

According to GSU police, Rhoden met two other men in a car outside of his residence hall one night in March. Rhoden was attempting to sell the men marijuana when an argument began, leading to a shootout between Rhoden and a 19-year-old man, a spokesman for the university police department said.

Rhoden was hit once in the chest but shot the other man three times with a Glock .40 handgun, and both were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in serious condition, the spokesman said. Each man was later charged with assault, attempted murder and possession of a firearm on campus. Investigators recovered both guns and what they described as “a significant quantity of marijuana” in Rhoden’s backpack.

Rhoden was booked into the Fulton County Jail but released three days later on bond. He was indicted, but it is unclear if his case ever went to court. Prosecutors ultimately dropped the 19-year-old’s charges, according to Fulton court records.

Cobb police refused to answer most of the media’s questions due to the open and ongoing nature of the investigation. Cox would not say why Rhoden allegedly drove onto the golf course, how or where he may have kidnapped the two men in the truck bed, or what circumstances led to the deadly rampage.

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The brazen killing of Siller on the golf course shocked a Kennesaw community that prides itself on being one of the safest towns in the United States. Cobb residents were further unnerved as authorities provided few answers or updates on the case in the ensuing five days.

“I realize that some members of the community felt some frustration,” Cox said. “They felt like they had limited information, and I can respect that feeling.”

He added that “the successful arrest and prosecution” of a suspect was their highest priority.

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Authorities think Siller may have “happened upon a crime in progress” and was “killed because he witnessed an active crime taking place.” An agency spokesman said Thursday that most details related to the investigation would likely have to come out in court.

Rhoden’s first appearance hearing has been scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, when his bond will be considered, according to the Cobb County Magistrate Court. He is set to appear before a judge virtually from the Cobb County jail.

We’re working to learn more.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

Staff writer Christian Boone contributed to this article.