What started out as a dispute between two neighbors over small patch of lawn allegedly exploded into a deadly shooting on Nov. 23.
George Patterson, of Rocky Top, Tennessee, has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of his neighbor, David Roach.
For years, Patterson, 67, and Roach, 43, took turns mowing the thin strip of grass between their two homes. But one day last year, Patterson’s attitude took a sudden turn, Tennessee’s Knox News reports. He snarled at Roach to stay off his property, and from then on, the neighbors’ relationship became increasingly strained.
“Every time we were outside, it was an argument,” Roach’s fiancée, Felicia Adkins, told the outlet. “At first, it was just screaming and yelling, then it turned to threatening, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ He hated him, just calling him all kinds of names and threatening to kill me, threatening to kill his mom, threatening to kill all of us.”
Patterson began putting up passive-aggressive signs around his property, which Roach posted about on his Facebook feed the night before the attack.
“Be a good citizen and report elder abuse at: 911,” one sign read. “Sadly family is the usual offender.”
Another said simply, “Stupid.”
Roach wrote on his Facebook that he thought his neighbor was just “trying to get attention.” In a video posted the same night, however, he expressed serious concerns about his own safety.
“That man’s crazy,” Roach said. “And every time we try to do something about it, the cops just slap him on the wrist and let him go and say, ‘Oh, you’ve just gotta kind of look over George. He’s crazy.’ Well, of course he’s crazy!”
Roach said that his neighbor took to carrying a gun at all times, which concerned him.
“Sane people know how to make the right decisions about how to use a gun,” Roach wrote on Facebook, “but a crazy man will shoot you at any time. And that’s George.”
The morning after Roach’s posts, he and Adkins were getting into their car when Patterson allegedly started an argument. Roach climbed out to talk with him, and Patterson allegedly pulled his gun.
“Davey said, ‘I don’t care what you do with it. You can shove it up your ass for all I care,’” Adkins told Knox News.
What happened next is disputed. Patterson claimed that Roach threw a Sprite can at him, according to an arrest warrant reviewed by Knox News, and that he fired his gun only at the ground between Roach's legs in response.
“Next thing I know, shots were fired,” Adkins told WVLT 8, a local news station, though. “And [Davey] turned around and looked at me, and he said, 'Get down! He’s gonna kill you too.'”
Patterson shot his neighbor four or five times before running back into the house, according to Adkins. Roach was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Patterson was arrested and charged with criminal homicide. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that he must undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he can stand trial or not. He is due back in court in March, according to Knox News.
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