Woman killed by Henry police called ‘loving person’

The family of a Henry County woman killed by police Thursday are still reeling from the news of her death.

James Bell, of Lithia Springs, said his niece Lori Knowles was “a loving person.”

“We’re still seeking information as to what took place and why Lori is no longer with us,” Bell said during a phone interview Friday afternoon. “We want to know how a 911 call for help turns into police having to shoot.”

Knowles, 37, was shot to death Thursday afternoon after Henry police entered her home after receiving several 911 calls from the house. Police report they entered after hearing screams from inside the house.

A preliminary autopsy report from the Henry County coroner released Friday said the cause of death is incomplete pending results from histology and toxicology reports. Those reports could take six to eight weeks, according to the coroner.

A man who lived next door described Knowles as a “good neighbor” from a stable family, which he said made her death bizarre, shocking and incomprehensible.

“The cops have never been over to their house — this is totally out of blue,” Timothy Pangburn told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Friday. “She was home alone and she was having some sort of episode. That is what is so confusing.”

Pangburn, 28, said he fished with the woman and her husband, and the two families watched each other’s homes when the other was out of town.

Pangburn said his wife, Sarah, saw two officers breaking in the door. Soon afterward, more patrol cars converged on the scene.

“She didn’t hear anything. Not a scream, not a gunshot,” Pangburn said. “It was completely quiet.”

Henry County police spokesman Lt. Joey Smith told WSB Radio the 911 center received three calls around 4:30 p.m. from a Cobb Court residence near Hampton. In all of the calls, a woman could be heard screaming, he said. When officers arrived at the home, they also heard a woman screaming, and forcibly entered the home through a back door.

Once inside, officers encountered a woman “who was very distraught and armed with a weapon,” Smith said. While officers attempted to negotiate with the woman, she reportedly made a move toward the officers and at least one shot was fired. Smith said he believed only one shot was fired at the woman, who was rushed to Piedmont Henry Hospital, where she died a short time later.

Smith said the woman was alone in the home and her husband, who was not at home, also called 911.

Pangburn said Knowles worked from home. He knew of no mental health problems from which Knowles may have suffered and had no clue to what may have caused the reported screaming. To the contrary, he said, they saw her as a “normal person,” from a stable family.

In fact, the family’s presence had always made him feel more secure, Pangburn said.

“They were a very gun safety family,” he said. “He is very knowledgeable with guns and she was as well. They were both well trained at it.”

The GBI is investigating the shooting and the officers involved are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome, Smith said in a news release Friday.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.