Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Chattanooga Times Free Press - Deputies say three people were killed late Thursday during a domestic shootout at this home near Dawnville in southern Whitfield County.
Kenny Simonson and Edward Manz were two fathers determined to protect their children and grandchildren from a hail of gunfire Thursday night.
Both men died at the hands of David Hartline, who sheriff’s deputies theorize was bent on harming his estranged girlfriend Mindy Bullard, 35.
But Kenny Simonson, 41, and Manz, 61, stood between Hartline’s gun, Bullard and her children, and in the process they were fatally wounded, Simonson’s brother Brian said.
“I’m proud that [Kenny] was able to save the kids, and even Mindy benefited in that her life was saved, but I’m also hurt and in shock that this crime happened,” he said.
After the shooting, the families met with Whitfield County deputies and the coroner to run over their theories of how the crime played out, Simonson said. They also have talked to child witnesses who recall some details and saw some of the shooting, he said.
From the start, deputies said, there was an exchange of gunfire, but Simonson says deputies now believe that after Bullard saw Hartline reach for a gun from his truck toolbox, Manz met him with his own gun.
Manz was shot, and then inside the home Simonson was shot. Both men survived those initial wounds as Hartline’s attention turned to Bullard, Simonson says.
On 911 tapes, Bullard is on the phone with dispatchers as Hartline comes into the room. She pleads, “Please don’t hurt me, David.” Hartline replies with accusations that Bullard has been having sex with another man. Then there is a scuffle.
“That’s my brother [coming in the room],” Brian Simonson said. “[Hartline] had to turn his attention to Kenny, and he shot him three more times.”
That gave Bullard enough time to get out a second-story window and onto the roof, Simonson says. She was shot in the legs and then fell to the ground below, breaking bones. Deputies found her crawling toward a neighbor’s yard, according to police reports.
Hartline wasn’t done with Bullard, Brian Simonson said. He was going to chase her to the yard and finish the job, Simonson believes, but when he reached the bottom of the home’s staircase Manz, who was on the floor suffering from his own gunshot wounds, managed to fire two bullets into Hartline, finally stopping him.
Simonson said everyone in the family is reeling from the crime. The children — seven ranging in age from 4 to 16 — are staying with him and his wife in Cleveland, Tenn.
“We are just showering them in love and attention,” he said. Bullard has been released from the hospital, Simonson said.
A funeral for Manz is planned for today, and Simonson’s burial will be Wednesday.
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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 ...