SOUTH FORSYTH – Authorities have released the names of the five family members who were shot, four fatally, in their south Forsyth home Wednesday morning in what authorities have ruled a murder-suicide.
The three murder victims include Rebecca Manning, 37, and her juvenile sons, Jared and Jacob Smith. Manning’s 75-year-old father, Jerry Manning, was also shot and remains in critical condition.
The suspected shooter, Matthew Fields, 32, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Fields was either Manning’s boyfriend or husband, according to authorities.
Both juveniles were students at Johns Creek Elementary School, according to Jennifer Caracciolo, a spokesperson with Forsyth County Schools.
Jared Will Smith, 8, was a rising second-grade student, having attended the school since 2012.
Jacob “Jake” Jerry Dean Smith, 9, was a rising fourth grader. He had been at the school since 2011.
They were both reportedly in bed when they were killed.
Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said the children and the shooter were pronounced dead on scene when emergency personnel arrived to the residence on the 5500 block of Old Atlanta Road. Rebecca Manning died a short time later at the hospital.
Jerry Manning was taken to an area hospital in critical condition from multiple gunshot wounds. The last update on his condition was about 2:30 p.m., when he remained in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
The entire incident occurred inside the home. Deputies were apparently “familiar with the residence,” having responded to a domestic call at the house on Tuesday evening. However, neither that nor any potentially previous incidents were reported as violent.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Maj. Rick Doyle said Tuesday’s dispute was verbal and that deputies “did not see anything that would indicate there was a physical confrontation.”
Manning reportedly was not cooperative and assured authorities there was “nothing going on.”
Fields was apparently not at the house when deputies responded on Tuesday, though the call was in reference to him.
Doyle said Fields did not return to the home until Wednesday around daybreak when shot everyone inside.
Sheriff Piper said in a news briefing Wednesday at 10 a.m. that detectives hope to find an official motive during the ongoing investigation.
“There’s no reason we’re ever going to understand why he shot an entire family,” he said.
Maj. Doyle said there are “various indications they had been having relationship issues.”
It was not immediately clear whether Manning and Fields were legally married, married by common law, engaged or dating.
The domestic-related shooting occurred around 6 a.m., when Fields apparently called his mother to tell her he had killed his family and prepared to commit suicide. His mother then called 911 from another county to alert authorities of the situation.
Those who responded to the house Wednesday were aware of the call made the previous night, Doyle said.
Minutes before the 911 call came in, Piper said, a nearby business reported hearing gunshots.
Old Atlanta Road has been shut down from Westminster Lane to the Fulton-Forsyth county line at McGinnis Ferry Road. Doyle said he hopes the road will reopen at 7 p.m.
The residence where the shooting occurred neighbors the Olde Atlanta Golf Club, a golf course community of more than 600 homes with properties along the Chattahoochee River.
This is the second murder-suicide and third shooting related to domestic violence in July that has affected someone in or connected to Forsyth County.
On July 8, Erin Niccole Jones, a 28-year-old Forsyth County 911 communications officer, was shot to death by her 43-year-old live-in boyfriend at their home on Maple Hill Drive in downtown Dawsonville.
Neither the two young children they had together nor his two kids were home at the time.
On July 17, a 64-year-old woman was arrested after reportedly shooting her 69-year-old husband, Gary Smith, several times.
It was initially reported he made the 911 call and was conscious when emergency personnel arrived to transport him to a hospital for surgery.
Though the three incidents are unrelated, Doyle spoke Wednesday of law enforcement’s role in protecting domestic violence victims.
“We can’t help someone who is denying [help] and not involving us in the process,” Doyle said. “[If they can] get the courage to report it, we can help get the proper help, like a restraining order. That’s just a piece of paper, but we do have other avenues ... When we respond and they say everything is fine and there are no bruises or signs of a struggle or marks, legally we’re limited in what we can do.”
He said domestic violence issues are “difficult” and “unfortunately it’s very common.”