A Colquitt County man was one of three people fatally shot early Monday morning at a residence near the Colquitt-Tift County line in what is believed a murder/suicide.
The Observer has learned that Darrell Dewayne Ward, 42, one of those who died at the Innis Road residence, lived a short distance from the location where the shootings took place.
Tift County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Bobby Brannen confirmed earlier Monday that three people were dead at the residence, located off U.S. Highway 319 South near Omega.
Tift County’s 911 center received a call shortly before 6:30 a.m. about a person being shot, Brannen said.
A fourth person was transported by air for emergency medical treatment.
Brannen did not release any additional information, and the other fatalities have not been identified. It is believed, but not confirmed, that two of the dead are related to the woman who was air lifted, possibly mother and father.
Ward had moved back and forth between Colquitt and Tift counties since his release in April 2007 after he served nearly 10 years at Autry State Prison in Pelham, authorities said. He pleaded guilty Oct. 31, 1997, to the rape of a Lowndes County woman and began serving his sentence in state prison in December of that year.
On Jan. 15, Ward changed his sex-offender registration to Colquitt County from Tift County, after having moved from here to Tift County in 2010.
In a plea arrangement on the rape charge in Lowndes County, counts of false imprisonment, aggravated stalking and burglary were dismissed at the time he pleaded to the rape charge, District Attorney David Miller said.
The Georgia State Patrol charged Ward in July 2010 in Colquitt County with driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane, failure to provide assistance and driving without a license on his person. It was not immediately known whether those charges had been disposed of.