Lilburn police have arrested the man they believe killed a local Wal-Mart security guard Sunday night, and alluded Wednesday to evidence that they're "confident" will tie him to the crime.
What they don't know -- and may not ever know -- is why a 25-year-old father of three lost his life over what could've been a simple shoplifiting arrest.
"Somebody who does something this extreme for such a relatively minor crime, you would think maybe they’re facing a bunch of jail time because they’ve got a long criminal history," Lilburn police Capt. Thom Bardugon said. "But that’s not the case here. We’re really not quite sure why."
Boaz Anthony Fordyce, 37, was booked in the Gwinnett County jail at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, about four-and-a-half hours after being apprehended at a DeKalb County business and less than 48 hours after allegedly shooting Jaseramie Dion “JD” Ferguson near the front entrance of the Wal-Mart store at 1400 Lawrenceville Highway. Ferguson and another employee had tried to stop Fordyce from getting away with three flat-screen TVs he didn't pay for, police have said.
Many details about the case remain unclear, but Bardugon provided new insight during a Wednesday morning press conference in front of the Lilburn Police Department.
• Despite "very sketchy information" and grainy surveillance photos from the incident, police received more than 100 tips in the case. One call to Crime Stoppers Atlanta came the morning after the shooting -- and specifically mentioned Fordyce's name.
Bardugon said he didn't know if the caller recognized Fordyce from photos distributed by news media or had other knowledge of the case, but said detectives believe Fordyce spoke to at least one person about the shooting after it occurred.
"We do know there were some people that he had spoken too, and we have in fact spoken with them," Bardugon said. "...At this point, I don’t see that the people we interviewed about it after the fact did anything that would cause them to be criminally liable."
• By 1 a.m. Tuesday, detectives were able to confirm tips that pointed to Fordyce as the shooter, Bardugon said. Warrants were issued charging him with murder, aggravated assault and theft by shoplifting.
• Tips eventually led Lilburn detectives to the Doraville area of DeKalb County. At some point, they learned that Fordyce was at a business "a few doors away" from their location, and he was taken into custody without incident around 1 p.m.
Bardugon declined to identify the business or say what Fordyce was doing there.
• After Fordyce's arrest, search warrants were served at "different residences" in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties. Bardugon again declined to provide specifics but said the locations were extended stay motels where Fordyce -- who Gwinnett jail logs list as a Duluth resident -- had stayed in the recent past.
"We were able to gather additional information and some additional evidence that we are confident will tie [Fordyce] to the shooting," Bardugon said.
Bardugon declined to say if the alleged murder weapon was recovered. The shoplifted TVs were left at the scene, he said.
Fordyce has "friends" in the metro Atlanta area, Bardugon said, but his real ties lie in the New York City area. He is believed to have a minor criminal history, as well as a military desertion charge dating back to 2003 -- but why Fordyce allegedly chose to open fire on Ferguson remains a mystery.
"Based on conversations we've had with him," Bardugon said, "we are no closer to figuring out why than we were when we started this."
Fordyce had a first appearance hearing in Gwinnett County Magistrate Court on Wednesday afternoon. A judge read the charges against him and scheduled a probable cause hearing -- during which more details of the investigation will likely surface -- for the morning of April 19.