NEW: "Long-simmering domestic dispute" turned deadly, GBI says
NEW: Daughter, 16, called police after dad killed mom, according to police
The alleged shooter was later found dead after shootout, investigator says
A former cop “disenfranchised with law enforcement” and known to own “a lot of guns” is accused of killing his ex-wife before ambushing a sheriff and deputy who responded to the scene, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation official said Monday.
The deaths appear to have resulted from a “long-simmering domestic dispute,” Rusty Andrews, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s deputy director of investigations, told reporters.
Anthony Giaquinta, an ex-military contractor and a former law enforcement officer with the Gainesville Police Department and Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, was found dead from what police believe was an exchange of gunfire with a deputy.
Giaquinta’s 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend were at the house outside Clarkesville when Giaquinta arrived and produced a gun. She heard gunshots, saw her mom dead, called 911 and fled, Andrews told reporters.
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, Deputy Bill Zigan and a second unnamed deputy responded to the scene and found Kathy Giaquinta Smith dead in the garage, Andrews said.
Terrell and the second deputy entered the house to search it, while Zigan secured the garage entrance in case Giaquinta returned, Andrews said. There, Zigan was “likely ambushed from a position Giaquinta had taken” in a nearby wooded area, he said.
Struck by multiple bullets from Giaquinta’s Glock 9-millimeter, Zigan took cover between two vehicles inside the garage. Terrell and the other deputy entered the garage after hearing gunshots, and Giaquinta fired again from a position to the side of the garage door, striking Terrell in the bicep, Andrews said.
The second deputy then exchanged gunfire with Giaquinta, Andrews said.
The officers called for backup, and after setting up a perimeter around the home, they found Giaquinta’s body in the back yard. There was no sign of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and it appears he was killed by the “return fire by law enforcement,” Andrews said.
The medical examiner will make the final determination on Giaquinta’s cause of death.
Also in the yard was the body of Steve Singleton, a 45-year-old Flowery Branch man who police believe “had some type of friendship with Kathy Giaquinta Smith,” Andrews said. It’s unclear how Singleton died.
The sequence of events remains unclear, but early indications are that Singleton was killed before police arrived.
Terrell was released from the Northeast Georgia Medical Center late Sunday, and Zigan remains in the hospital for “further treatment and observation,” County Manager Phillip Sutton said Monday morning, adding that he’s “hopeful that he will be released soon.”
The alleged shooter is a former Gainesville police dog handler who also worked for the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, Andrews said. He left the sheriff’s office to take an overseas position as a military contractor and returned to the Habersham County force before being terminated in June 2013 following an allegation of domestic violence, Andrews said.
That allegation was never adjudicated, he said.
Though there had been no previous reports of gun activity involving Giaquinta, Andrews said it was “well-known that Anthony had a lot of guns in his possession.”
Andrews said he was unaware of any bad blood among Giaquinta and the sheriff and deputies who responded, but Giaquinta was “disenfranchised with law enforcement in general.”
Terrell “was asked to go there to help with the situation,” Sutton said, though he didn’t say why the sheriff was requested at the scene.
On Sunday, Sutton told CNN affiliate WSB-TV that the sheriff responded to the call “probably because he knew the person who was involved in the incident” and because he thought he could calm down Giaquinta.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office made national headlines last year after the department SWAT unit, based on word from an informant, conducted a drug raid at a house, throwing a flash-bang grenade and seriously burning a 19-month-old baby.
In that case, officers did not find the drugs they were seeking at the house, only methamphetamine residue.
Habersham County is about 85 miles north of Atlanta.
CNN’s Karan Olson and Paul Matadeen contributed to this report.