Valdosta Daily Times

January 10, 2013

Authorities question how murder suspect obtained gun

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

HAHIRA — After a neighbors’ dispute left one dead on Friday, Jan. 4, authorities have been investigating why the alleged shooter had guns in the first place.

“We are trying to figure out how they got in his hands,” said Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine.

David Horace Harrelson, 66, of Hahira is charged with murder in the shooting death of Joshua Commander, 38, along the 7400 block of Union Road, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

Yet, in 2010, Harrelson had his weapons seized by Lowndes County authorities after he was arrested for shooting at a man who had pulled a truck into the driveway of his Hahira home. In this case, Harrelson was convicted of aggravated assault, a felony, said Sheriff’s Lt. Stryde Jones.

“We seized all the weapons in his possession,” said Prine.

While convicted, the prosecutor did not issue an order to have the weapons destroyed.

The Times called the Southern District Attorney’s Office for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday, and left messages, but these calls were not returned.

Harrelson, on his own, relinquished the ownership of his weapons to a second party, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We gave (the weapons) back to the (second party) with the understanding that Harrelson was not supposed to have them,” said Prine.

The gun used last Friday to allegedly shoot and kill Joshua Commander was only one of the weapons found in Harrelson’s possession that the county had previously given to the second party, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The (second party) is now the legal owner of those weapons,” said Prine. The county did conduct a background check on the second party. “He passed the background check,” said Prine.

Because the court did not issue an order for the guns to be destroyed, the county had to turn over the guns.

“We can’t just arbitrarily destroy things,” said Lowndes County Sheriff’s Lt. Stryde Jones. “It’s somebody’s property.”

The Sheriff’s Office is now questioning the second party.

“We’re still working on the gun aspect,” said Jones. “This case is not closed by any means.”