Neighbors said William Arnett changed in recent months and painted his garage doors. (Credit: Carolyn Cunningham)

Neighbors describe Paulding shooter as odd, but non-threatening

A man who shot at his Paulding County neighbors, killing one and wounding two others before killing himself, was described as non-threatening.

William Arnett opened fire about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, leading authorities to close down access to and evacuate the Pine Valley Drive area. Bennett to Williams Lake roads were closed for several hours and residents gathered at a nearby fire station.

Carolyn Cunningham, a contributor to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who lives near the Pine Valley Drive neighborhood, said she didn’t know Arnett well, but they had spoken as neighbors. The man may have lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, Cunningham said. Other neighbors said Arnett may have suffered with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Paulding County spokesman Deputy Donny Pace said Arnett was known to local law enforcement before the shooting.

Pace said Arnett likely shot and killed his next-door neighbor from his house. After SWAT team members filled the house with tear gas, authorities found Arnett in the back of his residence dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had a handgun and an AR-15 near his body, Pace said.

Detectives said the Adamses were in the process of moving and had returned to the residence to pick up some belongings when the unprovoked attack occurred.

Heather Waddell, a neighbor, said Arnett used to be normal but recently started acting strangely and had been seen sitting on his roof naked.

She said she knew the man killed as Jeff Adams, a fellow member of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Waddell also said Adams’ wife and sister-in-law were shot. His wife is expected to be OK, Waddell said, but the sister-in-law is in critical condition at a local hospital.

Police said Annetta Adams, 47, was shot once in the abdomen. Denise Basnett, 48, of Clarksville, Tenn., was shot multiple times and was still at Grady Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

Waddell said Arnett had called Adams a “fake Christian.”

“The opposite was true and Jeff was about to be voted Deacon of the Year in September,” Waddell said. “He didn’t even know yet.”

Cunningham said she waved when she saw Arnett working in his front yard at 55 Pine Valley Drive. A few months ago, Arnett painted his garage door.

“For the last few months, he had huge, red lettering on his garage door: KEEP OUT. HOT,” Cunningham said.

Shannon Banks, a neighbor who lived at the back of the neighborhood, said Arnett was a nice guy and that she spoke to him about an hour last winter when they lost power.

But Banks said Arnett painted those words on his garage about six to nine months ago.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Banks said.

Arnett struck Cunningham as having no emotion when they passed each other on the street, but she said she wasn’t worried.

“He would look at me and did not seem angry or happy,” Cunningham said. “To look at him, I never thought he would be one to commit murder.”

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