A homeowner in the West Lakeview Estates called 911 about 30 minutes before the shooting and told authorities someone was walking in the backyard with a shotgun or rifle, the GBI said.
Deputies found Willoughby hiding in a wooded area. He pointed the pellet gun at them, and the deputies ordered Willoughby to drop it, according to the GBI. He refused, prompting deputies to open fire.
They fired several rounds, GBI spokesman Chris DeMarco said.
Willoughby was taken to Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica, where he died.
An autopsy will be performed at the GBI Crime Lab in Decatur.
No deputies were injured during the shooting.
The GBI is looking into the deadly incident, which is standard protocol in use-of-force cases.
“Once completed,” DeMarco said, “the case will be turned over to the Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.”
In 2017, the GBI investigated 95 officer-involved shootings. So far this year there have been 15 officer-involved shootings.
— Please return to AJC.com for updates.
Know what's really going on with crime and public safety in your metro Atlanta community, including breaking news, trial coverage, trends and the latest on unsolved cases. Sign up for the AJC's crime and safety newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.