A Georgia homeowner shot and killed three masked teenagers around 4 a.m. Monday after one of the attempted robbers first discharged his own weapon, authorities say.
The three suspects, two 16-year-old males and one 15-year-old male, approached the Conyers, Ga., house with their faces covered and tried to rob three individuals in the front yard, according to the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.
One of the teens allegedly brandished a handgun and fired shots at the residents before one of the intended robbery victims produced his own gun and returned fire, striking all three attempted robbers.
One suspect died at the scene, while the other two were pronounced dead at a local hospital, police say. None of the intended targets were injured.
Officials declined to name the three suspects, but family members identified two of them as 16-year-old Isaiah Reid and his 15-year-old brother, Jaime Hernandez.
The boys’ aunt, LaShawn Thornton, told WXIA-TV her nephews were very close and described them as “loving.”
“I hope that someone can come forward and let us know what’s going on,” she told the station. “Because this is, like, devastating to my family. There are three teens that are dead now. And we all loved them.”
No charges have yet been filed in the ongoing investigation, which could possibly become a “‘stand your ground’ type of case,” Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett said during a Monday press conference.
Georgia is one of 25 states to have enacted “stand your ground” laws, which allow people to respond to imminent threats with any means necessary, including lethal force, without fear of criminal prosecution.
Florida’s own “stand your ground” law was thrust into the spotlight in 2012 when neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed black teenager Treyvon Martin and claimed it was in self-defense. He was ultimately found not guilty of second-degree murder.
The law again made headlines in 2018 after the legal team for Michael Drejka attempted to use the law in his defense after he killed Markeis McGlockton during an argument over a parking spot.
In April 2019, Drejka was found guilty of manslaughter. His sentencing hearing has been set for Oct. 10 and he may face up to 30 years in prison, the New York Times reports.