Kennesaw golf club was ‘thriving’ under slain pro in triple homicide case

Gene Siller’s brief visit with the golf instructors at Kennesaw’s Pinetree Country Club on Saturday showed how he was involved in everything at the course.

Siller had a million things to do on Saturday, one of the club’s busiest days of the year, said instructor Corey Evans. But he dropped by for a friendly reminder to staff that the driving range would be used as the shooting ground for the weekend’s fireworks display.

That personal touch is why people liked working for Siller and why members liked coming to the club, Evans said.

“The course is thriving,” he said. “It’s the most members the club has ever had.”

ExploreCommunity on edge as Cobb police hunt for suspect in metro Atlanta golf course shooting

Siller’s attention to detail at the course, located near Kennesaw State University, is why he was at the 10th hole on Saturday afternoon. He had dropped by to check out a report that an unauthorized pickup truck had driven onto the course.

Shortly afterward, according to the Cobb County Police Department, Siller was shot and killed on the course.

Police found a white Ram 3500 pickup truck on the green and located two other deceased males in the bed of the truck. Both males suffered apparent gunshot wounds. One of them was identified as Paul Pierson, the registered owner of the Ram 3500. The other male has not yet been identified.

As of Monday evening, the shooting suspect was still at large, according to Cobb police, which released few new details about the shootings. Officials described the suspect as about 6-foot-1 with long hair, last seen wearing a white or tan shirt and dark-colored work pants.

Other law enforcement agencies were not involved in the investigation as of Monday. The Kennesaw Police Department said they had not issued a public warning about a shooter loose in the community because “the description of the suspect has been vague,” said spokesman Scott Luther.

Nelly Miles, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the agency had not been asked to assist. A Georgia State Patrol spokesperson said they are not working the case.

Lou Bottino, chairman of Pinetree’s board of directors, said Monday that the Siller family asked “everyone to respect their privacy and let them grieve at this time.” The family may issue a longer statement later, though a final decision has not been made, Bottino said.

A former student at Purdue University, Siller joined Pinetree as director of golf in September 2019. He previously worked at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek and Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville.

Under Siller’s direction, Pinetree’s golf course in recent years had become one of the busiest in Cobb County, said member Brian Katrek, who broadcasts a show about professional golf on SiriusXM. Siller made certain the members felt comfortable.

“You’re at the club to escape everything else and Gene was there to help you enjoy your day,” Katrek said. “Gene was entertaining more people every day than he ever had.”

Siller took a special interest in selecting merchandise for the golf pro shop, Katrek said. When Siller ordered a set of black leather golf club head covers printed with the Pinetree logo, to be sold in the pro shop, he couldn’t keep enough in stock.

“His tastes lined up exactly with the tastes of his members,” Katrek said.

Siller was active player himself, finishing tied for 61st among club pros at the Yamaha Atlanta Open last month at Pinetree.

Pinetree has hosted other major events on the local golf circuit, including the Georgia State Golf Association’s 2013 amateur championship. Siller maintained the Pinetree course in top condition so it could be considered to host future events, said Matt Vanderpool, the association’s executive director.

Pinetree was also the home course for the Kennesaw State University men’s golf team. Siller frequently helped the team’s players get internships at the course, said head coach Bryant Odom.

“Gene was a kind man and a consummate professional in his trade,” Odom said.

Siller is survived by his wife and two sons. A GoFundMe page created for the Siller family had raised more than $330,000 by early Monday evening, more than halfway to its goal of $500,000.