Funeral Services Being Held Today
Police have made an arrest in the murder of golf pro Gene Siller and two other men at Pinetree Country Club golf course in Georgia on July 3.
Bryan Anthony Rhoden, 23, was arrested in Thursday in Chamblee, Georgia more than 25 miles southeast of where the slain men were discovered Saturday, Cobb County Police Chief Tim Cox said during a news conference Thursday evening.
Cobb County Police indicate golf pro Gene Siller, 46, was shot in the head by the gunman at Pinetree Country Club in suburban Atlanta on Saturday after ‘witnessing an active crime’ unfolding.
When police arrived at the course, golfers directed them to a white pickup truck where the bodies of two men were found.
Rhoden was charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of kidnapping, Cox said.
Cox described Rhoden as the ‘lone shooter’ in the slayings but he declined to give further details about what prompted the violence.
Rhoden was arrested by U.S. Marshalls Service’s Southeast Regional Fugative Task Force.
Siller, who was director of golf at the club and a married father-of-two, was not playing at the time but was walking towards the 10th hole after hearing that a white Ram 3500 pickup truck was being driven onto the course by the suspect.
Police believe Siller was shot dead after approaching the truck, which had become stuck in a sand trap. His body was found on the green close to the vehicle when police arrived on the scene.
The bodies of two other men – Paul Pierson, 76, of Kansas; and Henry Valdez, 46, of California – were then found dumped in the bed of the truck with gunshot wounds.
The truck being driven by the gunman was registered to Pierson.
Siller leaves behind his wife and their two young sons aged 6 and 7.
A GoFundMe set up to help support his family had already raised almost $709,000 by this morning.
Pierson and Valdez were from out-of-state and had no known links to the area or the country club, according to police.
It is not clear if Pierson and Valdez knew each other. Pierson is believed to have been in Atlanta for business, according to family friends.
“We literally had detectives that have worked around the clock and some have literally slept in their offices since July 3rd trying to clear this case,” Cox said.
Police have not confirmed if the crime Siller witnessed was the killing of the two men or another offense. Other golfers on the scene recalled hearing five or six gunshots.
“We are aware that the public has many questions, the most pressing one being why this happened; however, it is too early in the investigation to speculate as to motive,” police said in a statement.
Pinetree reopened the golf course on Wednesday and Siller’s widow Ashley laid flowers at the 10th hole where her husband was murdered, according to 11Alive.
Siller had only briefly dropped by the course on Saturday to remind staff that the driving range would be used to set off fireworks for July 4, instructor Corey Evans told The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The hole has remained closed for play, according to the club.
Evans said the club had been “thriving” under Siller’s leadership and had “the most members the club has ever had.”
The Georgia State Golf Association paid tribute to Siller, saying: ‘All of us at the GSGA are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred earlier today at Pinetree CC. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gene Siller’s family and friends.’
The Georgia PGA also issued a statement offering its condolences on Twitter: ‘Tragedy has stricken the Georgia Section PGA in the loss of our Member, Gene Siller. Thoughts and prayers for his family and the Pinetree Country Club family.’
Last year, Rhoden was arrested in Indiana after leading cops on a high-speed chase in White and Tippecanoe counties, the Pharos Tribune reported.
He faced a felony charge of resisting law enforcement as well as charges for reckles driving and was released from the White County Jail on a $5,000 bond, the newspaper reported at the time.