1 killed in West Mercer Ave. homicide

1 killed in West Mercer Ave. homicide
Thomas Benton Jr. (Source: WALB)
Thomas Benton Jr. (Source: WALB)
Michael Fowler. (Source: WALB)
Michael Fowler. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Albany Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened Saturday morning on the 600 block of Mercer Avenue that left one person dead.

According to APD, the shooting occurred around 12:56 a.m.

The victim was Gary Jefferies, 45.

When officers arrived, they found Jefferies lying unconscious and not breathing in the backyard.

He was later pronounced dead.

According to APD, a witness told police they were inside the apartment when two unknown suspects knocked on the door.

Jefferies went to open the door and later gunshots were heard, according to police.

The suspect is a man and believed to be in his mid-30s.

APD detectives, crime scene techs, Gang Unit investigators, and the Dougherty County coroner responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.

No arrests have been made at this time.

This is a developing story and we will continue to update.

Homeowner speaks out on homicide. 

Thomas Benton Junior is in complete shock over Gary Jeffries' death.

Benton said he lets people live there to help them get back on their feet and has done so for a long time now. 

But he said he is still in disbelief of what happened on his property.

"My calling is to give people jobs that need a job and don't have no place to stay, now that's my calling from the lord," said Thomas.

Benton is a minister who said for the last 10 years, he's allowed people to live in this building in his backyard.

"If a person comes to me, ain't got no place to stay, ain't got no home, I can, as a child of God, I can not turn them down," he explained.

He said he never questioned his actions.

That is until he got a knock on his door early Saturday morning.

"I realized who she was, she was the friend in the back back there and she told me that he was back there laying on the ground, somebody had shot him."

He was 45-year-old Gary Jeffries according to police.

Investigators say a witness told them before the shooting - two people knocked on the door while they were inside the home.

Jeffries went to answer the door and moments later he said Jeffries was laying on the ground.

Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler pronounced Jeffries dead around 1:30 a.m.

Benton said he had only known Jeffries for 3 months and said he had only lived here for a week.

"I mean I thought the world in all of him. He was such a good worker," said Benton.

Police are still looking for the two people who knocked on the door before gunshots rang out.

Meanwhile, the Coroner said there is no time to waste.

"This is the 10th homicide so we are trying to find out why and get it closed as quick as possible to find out who did it," said Fowler.

"It's just a sad situation and nothing I know can do about it. As far as I know, I was doing God's will and I just have to leave something like that in his hands," said Benton.

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