Cobb community on edge as cops search for triple homicide suspect

3 found shot to death on Kennesaw-area golf course
Police believe Gene Siller was “killed because he witnessed an active crime taking place" on Saturday at Pinetree Country Club.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Police believe Gene Siller was “killed because he witnessed an active crime taking place" on Saturday at Pinetree Country Club.

Police said they don’t believe a Cobb County golf pro was targeted when he was shot and killed Saturday afternoon at his Kennesaw-area country club.

Gene Siller, 46, was killed shortly before 2:30 p.m. when he went to find out why an unauthorized pickup truck had driven onto the 10th hole of the Pinetree Country Club, authorities said. As police investigated the deadly shooting, they found the bodies of two more men in the bed of the Dodge Ram 3500 that had gotten stuck near the green.

One of those gunshot victims was Paul Pierson, the 76-year-old registered owner of the pickup, authorities said. The third man had not been identified as of Tuesday afternoon.

After shooting Siller in the head, the suspected killer fled the course, police said. He remained at large three days later, which has many country club residents on edge.

Investigators said they don’t believer Siller was targeted, but that the golf pro “happened upon a crime in progress” and was “killed because he witnessed an active crime taking place.”

Gene Siller was shot and killed Saturday on the 10th hole of the Pinetree Country Club near Kennesaw.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

icon to expand image

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The other two men found dead “appear to have no relation to the location at all,” Cobb police said.

Longtime educator Tim Brown moved into the country club neighborhood in 2006 when he and his family purchased a home that backs up to the golf course. He described it as a tight-knit community, but said Saturday’s shooting has stunned residents.

He was made aware of the shooting after nearby Kennesaw State University sent out an alert about an “armed and dangerous” shooter in the area. Brown immediately called his wife, who was out walking the dog, and told her to head home and lock the doors.

“This type of stuff just doesn’t happen here,” said Brown, who has lived in the Kennesaw area for nearly three decades.

“It just hit me like a ton of bricks,” he said. “It’s a realization that crime is not a respecter of neighborhoods or zip codes. It can happen anywhere. And the neighborhood is pretty concerned because the perpetrator is still out there.”

On Tuesday afternoon, police left a letter in residents’ mailboxes assuring the community they were working to piece together what happened.

“Detectives, along with numerous other special victims units, continue to follow active leads in this case,” wrote Maj. Ben Cohen, the Precinct 1 commander. “We are aware that the public has many questions, the most pressing one being why this happened; however, it is too early in the investigation to speculate as to motive.”

Since the shooting, Brown and his family have been running at Kennesaw’s Swift Cantrell Park instead of exercising in their neighborhood. He has also been carrying his 9 mm handgun with him, even if he’s just walking the dog in the yard.

“I just don’t know where this guy is,” Brown said. “It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable. I just want to be safe. I feel called to protect and take care of my family.”

Siller is survived by his wife and two young sons. A GoFundMe page created to help the family with expenses has raised nearly $500,000 as donations pour in from across the country.

Brown said he feels terrible for the family of the golf pro, who was killed while getting ready for the country club’s July 4 festivities.

“He probably just went down there to check it out thinking nothing of it, you know?” Brown said. “Let’s just get this truck off the golf course, and then boom. Now there’s a wife without a husband, two children without a daddy. You can’t replace that.”

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.