Appling Still Reeling After Mass Murder

Photo of Wayne Anthony Hawes.
Photo of Wayne Anthony Hawes.

Appling, GA (WJBF) – Appling  has a population of just a few thousand, but after a gunman killed five people and then turned the gun on himself, the rural town made national headlines.

“It’s just unreal,” said Curtiss Curry, who has lived in Appling his whole life.

Days after the shooting, residents are still reeling. Family ties run deep in Appling, so the deaths of Roosevelt Burns, Rheba Mae Dent, Kelia Clark and Lizzy and Shelly Williams are being felt throughout the community.

“I know Kelia Clark, that was my second cousin’s fiance. And, I knowed Reba Mae Dent. That was my cousin’s mother’s sister,” Curry said. “And basically, I knew of all the victims. It’s a close-knit community.”

This is the largest killing spree in Columbia County’s history, and residents say they are shocked that it happened in their neck of the woods.

“Any kind of killing in this community is very rare. It, just…about everybody I’ve talked to is shocked,” Curry said. “It’s just tragic.”

Residents say that Appling is scarred by this heinous crime.

“I know a lot of people are hurting,” Curry said. “And, it’s going to hurt for a while. It’s going to take a lot of time to get over.”

The community has reached out in one of the only ways they know how to: through prayer. “I just say pray for those families that lost they loved ones,” he said. “Just pray for them. That’s about all I can say.”

Four of the people who died are undergoing autopsies Monday and the other two are scheduled to be transported for autopsy Monday evening.

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