Police in Georgia has arrested a man accused of killing a local coroner’s parents and son during a robbery at the family’s gun range earlier this month, according to officials.
Jacob Christian Muse, 21, faces three counts of malice murder in the 7 April shooting deaths of Luke Hawk, 19; Tommy Hawk, 75; and Evelyn Hawk, 75, which rattled their rural community about 50 miles south-west of Atlanta.
Authorities haven’t disclosed what evidence linked Muse to the triple murder in Coweta county, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced in a statement that he had been arrested late Friday night.
The killings made national headlines in part because Coweta coroner Richard Hawk, whose office investigates and classifies deaths reported in that community, discovered the victims’ bodies.
He told reporters that he became worried when neither his son Luke nor parents Tommy and Evelyn had come home when they were supposed to. So he went to check on them at his father’s shooting range, known as Lock Stock & Barrel, where the three were working.
Richard Hawk arrived to find his boy and parents had been shot dead in the range, and someone had stolen about 40 guns from the business. The security camera had also been taken, police said.
In public remarks after the slayings, Hawk said he took comfort in his family’s Christian faith and even offered prayers for the salvation of the killer’s soul.
“Tommy, Evelyn and Luke knew the Lord as their personal savior,” Hawk said in a brief interview with the Guardian. “They died knowing the Lord, and they’re in heaven.”
Authorities offered a total of $25,000 for information that helped police apprehend a suspect. It wasn’t immediately clear whether officials would pay out the reward following Muse’s arrest.
In Georgia, malice murder carries a sentence of either life imprisonment or the death penalty in the event of a conviction.
The Hawks’ murders unfolded amid a number of other high-profile shootings across the US, renewing calls for more gun control legislation from advocates.
One shooting on 3 April left six dead and 12 injured in Sacramento, and another left 10 with bullet wounds on a New York City subway on Tuesday. Both of those cases have led to arrests.