May 6 booking of Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill
Photo: Ben Gray
Photo: Ben Gray

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill charged in shooting

Ending days of speculation, Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was arrested Wednesday for his role in a shooting that critically wounded a woman inside a model home.

But Hill again kept mum, declining to talk to Gwinnett County police about what happened Sunday night inside a Lawrenceville-area model home. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, an arrest warrant was issued for Hill and his attorney was contacted, Cpl. Deon Washington said.

“Sheriff Victor Hill was afforded the opportunity to provide a statement about the incident but he declined to comment,” Washington said in an emailed statement late Wednesday.

Hill, 50, of Rex, surrendered and was charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, and booked into the Gwinnett County jail at 7:48 p.m., booking records showed. At 8:38 p.m., Hill was released from jail after posting $2,950 bond and was seen leaving the jail in a black SUV.

The arrest comes three days after Hill allegedly shot Gwenevere McCord, 43, of Jonesboro, who was working Sunday night as a Paran Realty agent. Hill and McCord were the only two people inside the 3,800-square-foot home on Britt Trail Drive when when McCord was shot in the abdomen. Hill called 911 to report the shooting, but refused to cooperate with officers called to the home Sunday night.

After leaving behind his clothes and guns, Hill was allowed to leave the shooting scene. But Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter has said the incident remained under investigation, and that the sheriff’s statements in his 911 call contradicted evidence gathered at the scene. Porter declined to comment on Hill’s arrest Wednesday night.

Hill’s arrest warrant, signed by Chief Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner, explains the reasons behind the misdemeanor charge.

“By consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk, to wit: Practicing police tactics while in a model home open to the public with a loaded firearm, which would cause the harm of said person…” the warrant states.

McCord, who remains in critical condition at Gwinnett Medical Center, was unable to tell investigators what happened inside the home. But her father defended Hill, calling the shooting a “freak accident.”

“They’re good friends,” Ernest McCord said of Hill’s relationship with his daughter. “He’s always been a perfect gentleman with us. He’s always shown concern for us and for her.”

Police said Sunday night that Hill “refused to cooperate and give any statement” when officers arrived at the home. Hill did not speak publicly until Tuesday afternoon, when he released a statement through the Nixle community alert system.

“As reported, on May 3, 2015, I was involved in a tragic and heartbreaking accident,” Hill said in a statement released just before 12:40 p.m Tuesday. “Gwenevere McCord, who is very dear to me, was critically injured in this accident. Please understand that for the past 48 hours, I have been entirely focused on Gwenevere and her family. I will continue to pray unceasingly for her recovery. I ask you all to please pray for Gwenevere and her family throughout this most difficult time.”

Hill is in his second term as sheriff and began his current term Jan. 1, 2013. He was also sheriff from January 2005 through 2008.

Both of terms in office have included controversy. In 2013, Hill was acquitted of racketeering charges related to his use of a county-issued credit card.

During the final week of his first term, Hill filed for bankruptcy, due partly to the amount of money he owed in damages for lawsuits against him. On his first day in office in 2005, Hill fired 27 deputies, who later sued for wrongful termination. They won their jobs back and settled for $7 million, which was paid by Clayton County.

Wednesday night, Hill declined to speak to reporters as he entered and then left the Gwinnett jail.

— Staff writer Tyler Estep contributed to this report.

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