Bond denied in fatal shooting

Thu, 07/03/2008 - 1:01pm
By: Ben Nelms

A Norcross man died after being shot just before 1 a.m. June 28 at a 55 Trammell Road home construction site near Grantville. He was shot at point blank range below the neck with a 12-gauge shotgun by J. Veitch Construction owner Jason Veitch. A bond petition for Veitch was denied in Coweta Superior Court earlier this week.

Gaston Gonzales, 23, probably died instantly from what appeared to have been a fatal wound, said Coweta Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Grant.

Gonzales and two co-workers subcontracting for Senoia Drywall had been working at the residence next door earlier in the day, Grant said. Senoia Drywall was doing work for Veitch at both locations, said Grant. The men finished their work and decided to get something to eat and return to the area to spend the night in their van rather than driving back to Gwinnett County.

Meantime, Veitch had been in a nearby wooded area, armed with the shotgun and a .22-caliber handgun, said Grant. Home sites owned by Veitch had been the subject of copper thefts, apparently prompting the contractor to call the Sheriff’s Office recently to ask if he could shoot a thief in the leg if he came upon another theft, Grant said. Veitch was told by Dep. Steven Jordan that he could not shoot anyone, though it was recommended that he install video surveillance equipment, Grant reported, adding that Veitch appeared to have been upset with the recommendation.

Grant said Veitch called 911 from the woods, informing dispatchers that he was being robbed. He then called his father-in-law, who arrived minutes later at the residence. Veitch left the wooded area and approached the parked van, firing a warning shot in the air then ordering the men out of the van, Grant said. It was at that time that Veitch’s father-in-law arrived at the site, he said.

Veitch told the men to lay on the ground with their hands behind them, said Grant. While on the ground two of the men placed their hands behind them but Gonzales did not, Grant said, presumably because he did not understand the orders in English. Grant said one of the victims told officers he attempted to explain the order in Spanish but could not be heard because Veitch was yelling loudly.

Grant said Veitch was trying to get Gonzales to comply by jabbing him in the upper portion of his back just below his neck. Veitch told officers he jabbed Gonzales twice when the gun fired, fatally striking Gonzales, said Grant.

Veitch and his father-in-law loaded Gonzales into a vehicle and his father-in-law drove Gonzales to the hospital while Veitch held the two men at gunpoint until officers arrived, said Grant. Veitch told officers he did not recognize the men, Grant said, adding that the area was dark and illuminated only by a flashlight Veitch was holding. It is not clear whether Veitch would have known workers subcontracting for Senoia Drywall, the company that was doing to work on Veitch’s home site, said Grant.

Veitch was bound over to Coweta Superior Court after a preliminary hearing earlier in the week. His petition for bond was later denied, Grant said.

Grant said the body was transported to the state crime lab to be autopsied.

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