Tip leads to shooting arrests - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tip leads to motel shooting arrests

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Travin Bryant Travin Bryant
Sydney Kerlegon Sydney Kerlegon
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Acting on a tip detectives received from a concerned citizen, APD Detectives and  the Metro Albany-Dougherty SWAT made two arrests in the shooting incident that occurred at Merry Acres.

Sydney Kerlegon, 21, and Travin Bryant, 19, were charged with Aggravated Assault and booked into the Dougherty County jail.

41-year-old Thomas Lee Bennet was shot in the back at Merry Acres Inn on Dawson Road. Police say Bennett was walking back to his room from getting ice, when he saw two men coming towards him with a shotgun.

The victim has still not been able to talk to Police about the shooting, but he is recovering. The owner of the motel says he is glad the community is upset about this shooting, and helped police put the two men behind bars.

The SWAT team raided Kerlegon's home in the 800 block of Seedling Street about 7:00PM.

 "A search was done at that residence and the items that we were looking for involving this case were found inside of the residence," said APD detective Charles Roberts.

The main evidence, a 12 gauge Mossberg shotgun that Police believe Kerlegon used early Saturday morning to shoot Bennet at the Merry Acres Motel during an attempted robbery.

Surveillance video shows the two suspects just before Police say they charged at Bennet, who had left his room to get ice. Police say Bennet closed a locked foyer door when he saw the two, but was shot through a window next to the door.

Bryant was arrested during the raid. Kerlegon was arrested at another undisclosed location. Police say Kerlegon had a .45 caliber pistol in his car.

"Mr. Kerlegon denied any involvement but he did give us enough information to support some of the evidence we already had in the case," Roberts said.

Merry Acres owner Bo Henry, outraged by the shooting, offered a $5000 reward for the shooter's conviction, and is glad that helped with the arrest.  "I think it's time the citizens get behind it. Stand up, and help with things like this because it's our town really. We can't let these criminals and things like that take over."

Police say Bennet is recovering, but they have not talked with him yet. Henry said Bennet had traveled from North Carolina to visit family for Thanksgiving. 

Henry said Merry Acres Motel has hired new security experts, and are now installing new fencing, lights, and surveillance cameras.

They already had 24 hour security guards, but now are hiring off duty police officers as well to patrol at night. He says it will cost thousands of dollars, but they are dedicated to making their business safe.

Police don't believe the crime was gang-related. Kerlegon and Bryant are being held without bond at the Dougherty County jail.

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