ATLANTA - An elderly man opened fire on a woman after her car came into contact with his motorized wheelchair at a central Georgia service station, authorities said Wednesday. She died shortly afterward at a hospital despite the efforts of a crowd of people to aid her.
Police said that Linda Hunnicutt, 65, was driving onto the gas-pump bay of the service station in Macon at about 1 p.m. Tuesday when her Buick Lucerne and the motorized wheelchair bumped. Hunnicutt stepped out of her vehicle, and the man in the motorized wheelchair pulled a handgun and fatally shot her, city police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said.
"The whole encounter, I can tell you, was very brief," Gaudet said. "Everybody is just reeling from this."
The suspect, Frank Louis Reeves, 73, was arrested in the gas-station parking lot. He made a brief court appearance Wednesday, and authorities said that he was being held without bond on a murder charge at the Bibb County Jail. Gaudet did not know whether Reeves had an attorney, and jail records do not list one.
A witness, Melissa Whisby, a former state corrections officer, said that she stopped at the gas station right before the shooting. She said that she saw Reeves back behind Hunnicutt's car, and that Hunnicutt then got out of her car and walked around to where Reeves was.
"I looked down for a minute and when I looked back she was in a kneeling position," Whisby said, adding that Hunnicutt then slid slowly to the ground and did not move.
Whisby parked her car and went to help, thinking initially that Hunnicutt was having a seizure. People who gathered placed Hunnicutt on her back and that's when they noticed blood on her chest. Whisby said that no one heard the gunshot.
As a group was working to apply pressure to the wound, someone asked who shot her. Whisby said that Reeves, who sat in his wheelchair, told them that Hunnicutt had tried to hit him with her car.
Police have described the encounter between the victim and the suspect as random.
Hunnicutt, described as a homemaker who lives a few miles from the station, was shot once in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.
Reeves lives behind the service station in one of a cluster of apartments, Jones said. No one answered a phone number listed for the residence on Wednesday, and a family member declined comment when reached by phone.
Whisby, the eyewitness, said that people did what they could to try to aid the victim.
"It did not do any good, but I hope her family knows that there were some strangers there who were very concerned and trying to help her and praying for her to make it," Whisby said.