Coroner who discovered his own slain relatives leans on faith, community

Credit: Family photos

Credit: Family photos

‘No such word as closure’

For years, Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk has responded to 911 calls. On April 8, he made a devastating one himself.

“This is not real,” he thought to himself. “It’s not real. That’s my baby boy laying there.”

After his parents and son failed to come home from the family business, Hawk drove to the Lock Stock & Barrel gun range and shop in Grantville to check on them. He found the bodies of Luke, 18, and his parents, Tommy Richard Hawk Sr. and Evelyn Gail Hawk, both 75, then called authorities.

The killings shocked the small Coweta town, which hadn’t had a homicide in at least 20 years. The Hawk family has been buoyed by their small community’s love and support as they continue to mourn.

“There’s no such word as closure,” Hawk said during a news conference on Monday.

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Investigators announced an arrest a week after the killings. Jacob Christian Muse, 21, had bought at least one gun at the shop and fired it on the range, Grantville police Chief Steve Whitlock said. Muse is charged with three counts of murder and remains in the Coweta jail, where he is being held without bond.

Richard Hawk said Monday he didn’t know Muse. Investigators have not discussed a possible motive.

The Hawk family plans to refrain from speaking publicly while the case remains open, and will continue to lean on their faith and their neighbors.

“It feels like your heart has imploded, just in pieces,” Hawk said. “And to see the love and support we’ve gotten, it takes one of those little pieces and puts it back in place.”

A reward of $25,000 is being offered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Gov. Brian Kemp for information leading to an arrest and conviction. No one is eligible for the reward so far, investigators said Monday. Additionally, a GoFundMe page raised more than $26,000 for the family and donations to the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, also earmarked for the reward fund, reached $10,900. Another $5,460 was donated toward a scholarship in Luke Hawk’s honor, the family said.

Credit: Branden Camp

Credit: Branden Camp

Richard Hawk parents were a close couple who thrived on their time with family, which included seven grandchildren. Luke was the only boy, and often worked alongside his grandparents, his father said.

Richard, his wife and children had previously lived next door to the gun range. As a small boy, Luke would use his small battery-operated riding toy to head over to see his grandparents, Hawk said. He has returned to work but the family hasn’t yet decided whether to reopen the business.

Luke loved the outdoors, whether it be hunting or fishing. He had planned to pursue an agriculture degree in the fall at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, his father said. Luke was set to graduate later this month from East Coweta High School.

The Sunday before he died, the Hawks’ pastor had asked Luke to pray out loud in front of a group. Luke was nervous, but later told his dad he made it through.

“I just talked to God. It was easy,” Luke said. “I wish I’d been doing it longer.”

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