Man accused of stabbing Sandy Springs officer arrested in Cobb couple’s slaying

Booking photo of Matthew Lanz (November 2021). Sandy Springs Police Department
Caption
Booking photo of Matthew Lanz (November 2021). Sandy Springs Police Department

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department

Suspect’s brother died in August after stabbing an officer in Washington

The 22-year-old man accused of stabbing a Sandy Springs police officer on Friday has been charged in the deaths of a firefighter and his wife who were shot at their Cobb County home earlier this week.

Matthew Lanz of Acworth is currently in the Fulton County Jail and facing multiple charges related to a Sandy Springs break-in. Police say he stabbed an officer who responded. Another officer shot Lanz, who was treated at a hospital before he was taken into custody.

Now, Cobb police have identified Lanz as the suspect in the fatal shootings of Cherokee County firefighter Justin Thompson Hicks and his wife, Amber Hicks, both 31. Police found the couple dead inside their Acworth home around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, hours after the shootings took place.

Their 2-year-old son was found unharmed in the home and is now with family members.

Lanz is facing two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, home invasion and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Cobb police said.

Authorities say Lanz lived directly around the corner from the home where Justin and Amber were killed. Lanz’s home on Delphinium Boulevard shares a backyard fence with the couple’s home.

The Sandy Springs Police Department confirmed Lanz is the brother of Austin William Lanz, the man who made national headlines when he fatally stabbed a police officer at a bus stop near the Pentagon in August. After stabbing George Gonzalez, 27-year-old Austin Lanz used the officer’s service weapon to kill himself outside the headquarters of the U.S. military, the FBI Washington field office said.

Austin Lanz, brother of Matthew Lanz. Contributed by Cobb County Sheriff's Department.
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Austin Lanz, brother of Matthew Lanz. Contributed by Cobb County Sheriff's Department.

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Neighbors later told The Washington Post of how Austin Lanz, the son of their neighbors, had repeatedly stalked and harassed them, including “smashing through (their) back door with a sledgehammer” while they weren’t home.

Court records showed that Austin Lanz had open criminal cases in Cobb on several charges, including aggravated battery against an officer, terroristic threats and burglary.

The Associated Press reported that the stalked neighbors “shared a backyard fence with (Austin) Lanz in Georgia.”

Many questions remain about the Cobb County killings. It’s unclear what relationship, if any, Matthew Lanz had with the Hicks family and police have not released a motive for their slayings.

Amber Hicks and Cherokee firefighter Timothy Justin Hicks were found dead from gunshot wounds inside their home Thursday. Cobb police have charged Matthew Lunz, who also faces charges for a Sandy Springs break-in, in the couple's slaying.
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Amber Hicks and Cherokee firefighter Timothy Justin Hicks were found dead from gunshot wounds inside their home Thursday. Cobb police have charged Matthew Lunz, who also faces charges for a Sandy Springs break-in, in the couple's slaying.

Credit: Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services

Credit: Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services

“Our Cobb County Crimes Against Persons Unit has been working nonstop since this incident happened, and that’s why they were able to get a suspect as quickly as they did,” Cobb police spokesman Sgt. Wayne Delk told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “There’s still some work to do to cross the T’s and a process, but for the most part, this case has been solved.”

Justin Hicks worked with Cherokee Fire and Emergency Services for more than six years, police said. Neighbors told Channel 2 Action News the couple had recently moved into the Chestnut Hill neighborhood off Bells Ferry Road.

The AJC has reported that Lanz will be charged with 35 individual counts in the Sandy Springs incident.

Those charges include 10 counts of attempted murder on a police officer, 10 counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, 10 counts of felony obstruction, two counts of first-degree burglary and one count each of first-degree home invasion, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

The Sandy Springs shooting marked the end of a string of early morning break-ins in a neighborhood off Heards Ferry Road. Multiple homeowners reported burglaries before residents of a home on Cameron Glen Drive discovered an intruder inside, said Sandy Springs Police spokesman Sgt. Sal Ortega.

The officer who was stabbed on Friday was taken to a hospital and has since been released, police said.