By Danny Harrison
Fayetteville Police investigators are still at the Applebee’s restaurant where they say 27-year-old Gregory Smith of College Park was found dead earlier this morning in his car, which had at least one bullet hole in it. Smith was a manager at the restaurant.
According to Fayetteville Police Lieutenant Mike Whitlow, 9-1-1 dispatchers received a call around 6:30 a.m. from a woman identifying herself as Smith’s girlfriend. She reportedly said she was concerned when he didn’t return home around the usual time, so she went to the Fayetteville restaurant location to find him.
Whitlow says they figure the shooting took place sometime after 2 a.m., which is a normal time for a manager to be leaving that restaurant after being open late on a Saturday night.
“We are investigating it as a homicide,” Whitlow said, noting that Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard and his victim assistance officer were already on the scene. He later confirmed Georgia Bureau of Investigations is on the scene as well, which he says is customary in cases like these.
Evidence tags could be seen on the ground by the north side of the building just a few feet away from Smith’s car, and Whitlow said they found bullet casings in that area, suggesting that the shooting death was not self-inflicted. A large hole could be seen in driver’s door window.
Whitlow said this is the first Fayetteville homicide in more than a year. “This is unusual for us,” he said, noting that it is especially rare in such a high-visibility area as is the north side of the Applebee’s building, which is located directly on Hwy. 85 across from Chick-fil-A Dwarf House.
One by one, Applebee’s employees showed up for work between 10-10:30, and they consoled each other as they shared the news of their colleague.
Whitlow said anyone with information about the incident, or anyone who may have seen anything unusual in the early morning hours around the Applebee’s area, is asked to call the Fayetteville Police Department at 770-461-4441.
Police say they are currently looking through security camera footage from neighboring businesses Rite Aid and Kroger, and they plan to look through Chuck E Cheese camera footage as well.