published Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

911 call captures mother's terror after two killed in Dalton

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    Emilio Christopher Canales, 27, is charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the shooting deaths of his father and brother and wounding of his mother in Dalton.

Audio clip

First 911 call

Audio clip

Second 911 call

DALTON, Ga. — Bloody and hysterical, 50-year-old Deborah Canales fled up her street and burst through her neighbor's door.

She screamed that her son had shot her and her husband, a neighbor told 911.

"Where was she shot at?" the dispatcher asked.

"In her knee and stomach," the neighbor said. A woman's screeches can be heard in the background. "She's just saying that she's hurting right now."

But when the dispatcher asked if Canales knew where her younger son, Emilio, was, she said she didn't know.

"Just stay in your house, OK?" the dispatcher warned.

Police swarmed the houses along Dude Street at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Three officers walked up the road with handguns drawn, said Willard Penton, a neighbor who peeked out his window. Emilio Canales Sr. and his 31-year-old son, Francisco, were found dead inside their home, and his younger son was gone.

Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon would later describe their bodies as too bloody to identify how many times they were shot.

Back at the neighborhood, Doris Redrow, who lives around the bend, saw Deborah Canales carried on a stretcher down to the ambulance waiting at the bottom of the short hill.

Police say she was in critical condition but is recovering at Hamilton Medical Center and will live.

Emilio Canales Jr. was captured early Sunday afternoon after police got an accurate description of the escape car. The 27-year-old was charged with two counts of murder and aggravated assault.

The shooting wasn't related to drugs or gang activity, said Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier. It started with a fight, but he wouldn't go into details.

But Emilio Canales Jr. was affiliated with a gang the first time he got in trouble with police when he was 21, Frazier said. After his first arrest he was in and out of jail until the shooting Sunday, his records show.

It wasn't clear what gang he was with, but in March 2006 he fired at the ground in a group of people with three other gang members, a police report shows.

His older brother, Francisco, was also there and had fired a handgun, too, the report shows. The shrapnel from the bullet remains struck two people, the report shows.

Both faced multiple charges, including aggravated assault. Emilio Canales also was charged with gang activity, but that charge was later dropped when he was indicted.

And when Emilio Canales pleaded guilty in September of that year, his brother's charges were dismissed, court records show.

Emilio Canales went to prison for two years. When he was released, he was placed on probation for 12 more years and given special instructions from the court to have no contact with gang members, records show.

He went back to live with his parents on Dude Street, but he continued to violate probation. Once when an officer came looking for him in 2011 after he didn't pay his fees, his mother told them he had lived with the family "from time to time," court records show.

He also refused to pay child support for his 9-year-old daughter, the girl's mother complained to the court. And another woman filed a protection order against Emilio Canales, saying he threatened to kill her.

In January 2011, the woman told the court that when she accused him of using drugs he slapped her across the face, pushed her on the floor and then tried to strangle her, records show. The one-year protection order was served to Emilio Canales in Whitfield County Jail, where he was being held on new charges of probation violation and giving a false name to police.

Three days before Emilio Canales was charged with killing his family, he was told to be in court this summer to begin paying for his daughter's care, records show.

He remains in Whitfield County Jail. On his Facebook account, friends post underneath a smiling photo that they will miss him. Another photo on his page displays four 1911 pistols arranged in a row.

Meanwhile, neighbors on Dude Street have a mixed reaction. Penton plans to pack up and leave as soon as he finds a new home.

Redrow says she isn't fazed by the violence.

"It doesn't scare me," she said. "I lived in Michigan for years. That's a scary place."

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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