News Nearby: Duluth Man Shot to Death After Pulling Into Wrong Driveway

Homeowner Phillip Sailors of Lilburn is currently being held without bond in the shooting death. Sailors thought someone was trying to enter his home unannounced, according to Lilburn PD report.

Lilburn Police detectives continue to investigate a Saturday shooting on Hillcrest Road that resulted in the city's first homicide since 2005.

In the incident, 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz, of Duluth, was shot as he drove away from a residence located at 537 Hillcrest Road in Lilburn. Diaz was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. 

He had been shot in the left side of his head with a .22-caliber revolver, according to police. He was pronounced dead at 6:10 a.m. on Jan. 27, while in the intensive care unit.

Homeowner Phillip Sailors, 69, was arrested Sunday and charged in Diaz's death. He reportedly believed that someone was trying to enter his home unannounced.

According to the police report released to Patch Tuesday, Diaz was driving with three friends, including his girlfriend, when he arrived at Sailors' home.

The victim's brother, David E. Diaz Valencia, said they were trying to find the home of a friend of Diaz's girlfriend when they pulled into Sailors' driveway by mistake.

Diaz, his girlfriend and their two friends were to go skating, according to the police report.

Trouble Unknown

Earlier in the evening, about 8 p.m., the girlfriend's father said he spoke with his daughter, who stated that she was on her way home. He did not know that the friends were headed out elsewhere, according to the report.

After the friends pulled into Sailors' driveway, police were dispatched to the scene for "trouble unknown" just after 10 p.m.

While enroute, a complainant told emergency dispatchers that a car was in her yard, that people were shouting, and that two gun shots were heard.

Another witness told police that a male subject was overheard yelling "why was someone trying to get inside their house."

According to Valencia, the GPS directed his brother and friends to the wrong house. Sailors fired one shot into the air and a second shot that hit his brother in the head as he accelerated out of the driveway, Valencia said.

"My brother had rolled down the window to apologize,” Valencia said, or the bullet might not have done so much damage.

When police arrived, they observed a woman screaming next to the stopped red Mitsubishi 3000GT, driven by Diaz, at the end of the home's driveway.

The driver was slumped over in the driver's seat, with blood covering his face. His breathing was labored, and he was unresponsive.

A female witness, who was later identified as the victim's girlfriend, was "screaming frantically (that) her boyfriend had been shot." Two other friends were standing behind the vehicle.

Sailors then "made a spontaneous utterance that he shot the driver," the police report states.

Sailors is being represented by Snellville attorney Mike Puglise. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

Diaz's Family Life

According to Valencia, Diaz was one of four brothers and two sisters. Most are living in the Duluth or metro Atlanta area.

He lived with his father, Rodrigo Abad Diaz Diaz; stepmother, Blanca P. Villegas Torres; brother David, and younger sister in a home on Pittard Road in Duluth.

The family is originally from Colombia. The father has lived in Duluth for 10 years. Several other family members came to Duluth about seven years ago.

Diaz was studying auto mechanics at Gwinnett Tech after changing majors from computer programming, according to his brother.

Valencia, whom Patch spoke to Tuesday, said funeral arrangements had not been made yet.

Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said the incident "was an unfortunate and tragic event" for all involved. 

The last time a person was killed in the city of Lilburn was 2005 on Inland Way. In that case, a Eunice Castillo, 38, chased down and shot her boyfriend, 43-year-old Keith Newell Boyd. She then turned the gun on herself in an apparent murder-suicide.

~ Duluth Patch Editor Faye Edmundson contributed to this article.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »