published Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Chattooga man charged with murder

Michael Kirby was inside the house where he lived with his father and brother in Summerville, Ga., when he heard the gunshot.

He dashed for the door, his stomach turning, knowing his brother had left 15 minutes ago to calm down his lifelong friend who lived nearby.

When Kirby got close to William Robert Packer’s home he saw the blue lights crowding in the yard.

“The police wouldn’t let me in, wouldn’t let me nowhere around it,” he said.

Later Wednesday, he was told his brother, James Kirby, 48, was shot in the chest and killed. Police said his neighbor, Packer, pulled the trigger.

“They were best friends. We knew him our whole life,” he said.

Just 15 minutes before he was shot, James Kirby had received a call from Packer who was upset, his brother said. He told Packer he would be over shortly.

A small community in Summerville is still in shock that Packer was charged with killing James Kirby.

Packer, 59, was charged late Thursday night after Chattooga County sheriff’s investigators wrapped up the investigation, said Sheriff John Everett.

“[Packer] refused to give his side of the story,” Everett said.

Police believe Packer called 911 after he shot his friend with a shotgun at his house on John Jones road about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, he said. But investigators still aren’t sure why he did it.

Packer had several previous charges including waving a gun at someone and shooting wild game illegally, Everett said.

Everyone in the community knew Packer had a temper and stayed intoxicated most of the week, said Michael Kirby. But people were surprised by this.

Services for James Kirby, will be Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Oak Hill Baptist Church.

Contact Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/jlukachick.

Online: Read previous stories.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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