Alleged gunman, identified Tuesday night as 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Neighbors: Alleged shooter quiet, friendly

School shooting suspect Michael Brandon Hill waived his first court appearance Wednesday and no bond was set for the alleged gunman who terrorized a DeKalb elementary school and shot at police before being taken into custody.

Hill, 20, remained an enigma to all except possibly the detectives who were interviewing him about why he allegedly entered McNair Learning Academy armed with a gun.

There is little in public record about Hill. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter dispatched to a house that was searched by law officers investigating the shooting found descriptions of an Everyman, who neighbors described as quiet and polite.

Late Tuesday night, police were still searching the house, which glowed from interior lights throughout and was wrapped in yellow crime scene tape. The house, which sits in a neighborhood of bungalows — some neat, some boarded up and surrounded by weeds — is in walking distance of the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, the scene of the crime.

Neighbors described the 20-year-old Hill as a short, stocky teenager who kept to himself and who watched over three children at the house in the wooded neighborhood off East Lilac Street in Decatur.

Hill, along with five other residents, had moved into the house about a year ago. They sometimes threw small get-togethers but rarely made much noise or trouble, said neighbors — who expressed shock that someone so unassuming could allegedly commit such a horrific act.

“I’m surprised,” said Francis Hall, who lives across the street and would occasionally exchange waves with Hill as he took out the trash. “He’s just an average guy.”

Another neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said he suspected Hill was some sort of nanny. He said Hill rarely left the house and was often seen taking care of three children who apparently lived there.

The children would play outside in the pool while Hill looked on. When neighbors requested he pick up trash left by children living at the house, he politely did so, the neighbor said.

To that neighbor and others, Hill didn’t seem disturbed; they saw him as pretty friendly.

However, Michael Hill was charged with making terroristic threats last December after his brother, Timothy Hill, told Henry County police that he had threatened him on Facebook. According to a Henry County family violence incident report released Wednesday, Timothy Hill called police on Dec. 30, 2012, to report that Michael Hill “stated on Facebook that he would shoot him in the head and not think twice about it.”

The report stated further that Timothy Hill “advised he is in fear for his life and wants to press charges on his brother, Michael.”

In the report, the investigating officer said he was told by Timothy Hill that his brother “has mental issues and is under a doctor’s care.”

Michael Hill turned himself in on the charges at Henry County police headquarters in McDonough on March 13.

Staff writer Rhonda Cook contributed to this story.