Deputies mistake Georgia man for murder suspect, pull guns on family


Highlights

Authorities pulled their guns on Peter Butler, thinking he might be a murder suspect. 

The actual suspect, Richard Lyle Timmons Jr., remains at large. 

Timmons is accused of fatally shooting his wife outside a nursing home. 

Friday was a frightening day for Peter Butler and his family. 

They were headed to Charlie Norwood Veterans Medical Center in downtown Augusta for an appointment when Richmond County sheriff’s deputies drew guns on them, news station WRDW/WAGT reported, saying he fit the description of a murder suspect: a black male driving a white SUV. 

Earlier that day, nursing home employee Jazna O. Timmons was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Her husband, Richard Lyle Timmons Jr., is the suspected shooter and remains on the run.

The VA hospital and nursing home are a quarter of a mile apart. 

READ: Husband sought, accused of fatally shooting wife at Georgia veterans nursing home

“We were like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s going on? Why are they pointing at us?’” Butler told the news station. “So they run up to our car, and they immediately pull their guns out at us.”

Butler said officers told him he and Timmons, described as 5-foot-10 with a medium build and short twists in his hair, looked alike and had similar vehicles: a white Chevrolet Traverse. Butler has a 2017 model, Timmons a 2010 one. 

In a Facebook Live post captured by Butler’s wife, deputies told the family: “You gotta understand what we’re looking for. We got a vehicle here, two people they can see in it, one that matches the description ... they’re gonna come up here and check it.”

The AJC has reached out to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department for comment. 

Butler, who said he served in the military, said he understood officials had to do their job, but when he saw a picture of Timmons: “I was just like, ‘This guy doesn’t even look like me.’”

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