published Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Shootout kills three at kid's birthday party in Dawnville, Ga.


by Adam Crisp
Audio clip

WARNING: This 911 call contains graphic violence.

Audio clip

WARNING: This 911 call contains graphic language and violence

DALTON, Ga. — What started as a 4-year-old girl’s birthday celebration Thursday ended with little children cowering in an attic for safety as family members died below in a hail of gunfire.

The girl’s mother, Mindy Bullard, 35, was shot twice while begging for mercy and fleeing across the family’s roof. On the ground, her ankles broken, she dragged herself toward a neighbor’s yard.

She survived, and her injuries are not life-threatening, authorities said, but three men died in the exchange of gunfire, including the alleged perpetrator, David Hartline, a 41-year-old convicted child molester from Summerville, Ga., who deputies believe was drunk and full of jealousy.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell / Chattanooga Times Free Press - Conasauga Circuit Distric Attorney, Kermit McManus, walks under crime scene tape blocking off a house deputies say three people were killed late Thursday during a domestic shootout near Dawnville in southern Whitfield County.

Bullard’s father, Edward H. Manz III, 61, of Chattanooga, and her ex-husband, Kenneth Simonson, 41, of Cleveland, Tenn., also were killed but not before Manz fired at least two deadly rounds at Hartline.

Bullard had been trying to end a tumultuous six-month relationship with Hartline when she told him not to attend the family birthday party Thursday afternoon.

He showed up anyway. Shunned a second time, he grabbed a gun, and started on a deadly attack, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said.

Bullard, a mother of seven children ranging in age from 4 to 16, begged for Hartline’s mercy moments after hoisting her children to safety in the home’s attic, 911 calls indicate.

“His name is David Hartline. He’s in my house, and he’s got a gun,” Bullard said, after telling a child to get into the attic. Hartline yells an explicative-filled rant with allegations that Bullard had been seeing another man. She denies everything and begs, “Please don’t hurt me, David.”

A voice that is apparently Hartline yells across the line “I’ll ... put this gun to your ... head and pull the trigger right now!”

Seconds later, gunfire echoes across the phone line and the call ends. Bullard was later wounded in the legs as she ran across her home’s roof, the sheriff said.

In other calls, witnesses plead for faster response. Deputies took a little more than 10 minutes to get to the scene, according to an incident report.

“People shot out here on Rainbow Circle, get the ambulances out here quick,” a male voice pleads. “Man is killing people out here, killing people!”

The line goes silent after the caller says, “Oh, here he comes.” And then there are four gunshots.

When Whitfield County sheriff’s deputies arrived at 1751 Rainbow Circle, they found Bullard on the ground behind the house, according to the sheriff’s department incident report.

SHELL-SHOCKED CHILDREN

Six children were in the home for the birthday party Thursday. A family member said it was rare for Bullard and Simonson to have all their children together at one time, but everyone had united for the birthday party.

Four children live in the rural north Whitfield County home and three live with Simonson. A 16-year-old girl did not attend the party. Bullard has children by both Simonson and another man, family and friends said.

Some of the children hid in the attic, but Margaret Manz, Bullard’s aunt and the sister-in-law of Edward Manz, said at least one of Simonson’s sons was found hiding in the woods two hours after the shooting.

“It’s just tragic,” Margaret Manz said. “Mindy feels awful. She’s in terrible pain, and she blames herself.”

Deputies ushered the children to Azalea Thompson’s home two doors down on Rainbow Circle as they sorted out the scene. She’s known the children for years, and had had them over to play her Nintendo Wii on several occasions.

“The kids were quite not themselves,” Thompson said Friday while standing on her porch in the heavily wooded neighborhood with big yards and large homes. “We hugged them, and my daughter made them popcorn and tea and they played the Wii.”

She said the children, who were later taken to stay with a relative, acted as though they were numb. Some knew family members had been shot. One or two of the children may have realized someone died, Thompson said.

The number of murders in Whitfield County recorded by law enforcement agencies for the five-year period 2005-2009:

  • 2009: 1

  • 2008: 1

  • 2007: 4

  • 2006: 1

  • 2005: 1

Source: Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Annual Uniform Crime Reporting Program summary reports

FATHER’S COURAGE

Bullard has been complaining to family members for some time that Hartline was causing her trouble.

Her father “had told me that within the last couple months, she had gotten involved with someone who turned out to be a psycho and was making her life miserable,” Margaret Manz said.

Hartline served a seven-year prison sentence for child molestation and was released in 2007, state prison records show.

From her Summerville home, an aunt of David Hartline said the family was still absorbing the shock from the previous night. She said the Hartlines didn’t know Bullard’s family very well.

“It’s just a loss for everybody involved,” Judy Hartline said. “We’re feeling for our loss as well as the other family’s. It’s a tragic event. That’s our family’s comment at this time.”

Deputies theorize that despite being wounded himself in the exchange of gunfire, Manz managed to unload two shots into Hartline before dying himself.

Though Edward Manz, whom friends knew as “Buster,” had a sometimes strained relationship with his daughter, he was always there for her. The large home on four acres of land was owned by Manz, neighbors said, and he often performed odd jobs there.

“They had their ups and downs, Mindy and Buster, but when it comes down to it, blood is thicker than water, and he wasn’t going to let that guy kill his grandchildren,” Margaret Manz said.

Staff writer Chris Carroll contributed to this story.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
katie200485 said...

I knew Eddie Manz and he was a good person who loved his grandchildren. This is a horrible tragedy.

August 28, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
wifemom1127 said...

It is a very sad situation for the kids and every family involved. I have known Kenny for years, as his kids have attended school with mine, and he was also my son's first baseball coach when my son was 5. So sad.

August 28, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.
lacy71987 said...

David Hartline was my moms boyfriend for a while and our family knew him very well, he still came around. I know that what David did was wrong and I am so sorry for that family and those kids but I do want to make a point to say that David was also a great man, he would give anybody the shirt off his back. I have 2 little boys that thought the world of him and he was the same way towards them. David had problems and they got the best of him...I'm sorry for what he done and I know it doesn't change anything, but David will be missed...

August 28, 2010 at 8:18 p.m.
susieq261950 said...

the real question is why didn't the sheriff department show up the first time the lady called 911? it was reported that she had called them earlier in the day (her call went to the neighboring county) they referred her call to whitfield county. Did they actually arrive on the scene that first time? If they knew he was a previous felon and had been drinking were they in the process of trying to find him? Why didn't they put a deputy car near the home in case he did return? These are the questions that need answering. All you other's that want to argue wheather he was a good person or a bad person will not solve it on this website. Give it a rest and let these people heal. Stop thinking of yourselves, keep your memories of him to yourself. Let's focus on HOW this could have been avoided.

August 28, 2010 at 11:11 p.m.
Echo said...

Avoided? There always have been two kinds of males: Small little boys in a man's body using a gun to solve their little psychic hurts, and those willing to use whatever means needed to stop them from hurting women and children. The former are selfish and self-destructive. As for the latter, the underfunded cops cannot instantly materialize on the doorstep like ADAM-12 meets StarTrek and clean up the byproduct of every desperate woman's poor choices. Yup. I'm judging AND expressing an opinion. Deal with it.

August 28, 2010 at 11:39 p.m.
angel1 said...

I am really sorry for all the families .Mindy bullard should have listen to her dad. But i feel like she is to blame for of this mess .Her dad and ex husband sounded like super nice guys. why did she even want someone like david he was bad news. One lady commented that he would give his shirt off his back . But he also took Two fathers away from their children.

August 30, 2010 at 9:29 p.m.
christie7879 said...

NO ONE should blame Mindy for this awful tragedy. How rude of any of you to judge her. I know her personally, and she is taking this very hard. She loves her children and father very much. And her and her ex Kenny obviously were on good terms. Shame on people for judging and condemning people when they have no right! We should all be praying for everyone involved!!

August 31, 2010 at 11:45 p.m.
orabrown said...

Yes, they will die in honor! However, it's a SAD that FOUR calls to 911 finally gets help after 3 shot!! Two of her asking for help, he's there, unwanting, drunk, and raving. She gives his tags, etc. BUT says she didn't want him there! Then another with him firing shots, then another from a neighbor saying people are dead. SOMEONE FROM 911's original CALL DID NOT go SEE and check up on the CALL! Dispatcher was RUDE. Did she even send someone out the first time? This should be checked up on! Also, her saying, "I can not help you without getting more info...." HELLO! YOU AREN'T on the other end of the phone... who's to see someone didn't have their hand over her mouth or even she was too hurt to talk.... Saying you won't help someone without them telling you even MORE DETAILS is not trying your best to get them help. THERE COULD OF BEEN 3 people ALIVE possibly if 911 would of showed up on the first call and sent the guy home or to jail. PERIOD!!! SAD, and personally, she deserved to be treated WAY better! I even noticed the dispatcher questioning how many children she had, and then acted like that was alot in her attitude... what did that even matter??? If you have alot of children you don't get a chance with protection??? I can't believe it!! I don't even want to live in a town where I call 911 and they treat me that way! Especially the end results!!!

September 1, 2010 at 12:05 a.m.
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