What began as a child's birthday party turned into a deadly shootout Thursday evening in Dalton, Ga., Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said this afternoon.
Three men are dead and a woman hospitalized with gunshot wounds after a domestic dispute involving the woman's estranged boyfriend, her ex-husband and her father, Chitwood said.
He said the incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. near Dawnville in southern Whitfield County at 1751 Rainbow Circle.
The sheriff said victim Mindy Bullard's estranged boyfriend David Dwight Hartline, of Summerville, Ga., had been drinking and was told not to come to the party. When he did arrive, an argument broke out. Investigators
believe the boyfriend was the first person to fire shots, but there was an exchange of gunfire, the sheriff said. At least 25 shell casings were recovered at the scene.
When authorities arrived, Bullard's father, Edward Henry Manz III, a Chattanooga resident, and Hartline both were dead in the home. Bullard's ex-husband, Kenneth Simonson of Cleveland, Tenn., was alive in the home but later died at Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Ga.
Bullard, also shot in the legs, crawled to a neighbor's home. Her wounds are not believed to be life threatening, the sheriff said.
Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon said all of the victims had multiple gunshot wounds, and much of the gunfire was recorded in graphic 911 calls released to the Times Free Press this afternoon.
Dixon said the woman lived at the house with a few children as young as four years old. The children were in the home at the time of the shooting, she said, but they were not injured.
This story will be updated throughout the day, and a full report will appear in tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.