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Newcomers receive rude welcome
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First Jean-Joseph, 61, and Angelica Kalonji, 57, were held at gunpoint by their new neighbors for 10 minutes. Then the couple was confronted by six deputies from the Newton County Sheriff's Office, who in spite of the couple's protests that they had just purchased the home, arrested them and locked them in the Newton County Detention Center.

Nearly a week later and all charges have been dismissed against the Kalonjis, but the ordeal is far from over. The neighbors, who brandished semi-automatic weapons because they thought the couple was robbing the house, remain in the Newton County Detention Center on charges of aggravated assault, criminal trespass and false imprisonment.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 45-year-old Robert George Canoles said, "I don't know what they can charge me with. This is my Second Amendment right. Look, this is the country out here, and we protect our own." He and his 18-year-old son Brandon Ryan Canoles both turned themselves in Monday evening.

"I have had an opportunity to meet with the Kalonji family as well as investigators from the Newton County Sheriff's Office," said Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon Tuesday. "The loitering and prowling charges against the Kalonjis have been dismissed. Since this investigation involves outstanding criminal charges it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this investigation and prosecution."

Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown did comment on the investigation so far as to say that an internal investigation was launched Monday into the actions of the deputies who responded to the home on Lower River Road.

"This is an unfortunate situation for all parties involved," Brown said Tuesday. "We have a peaceful, loving community and this is the first time I've ever heard of such an incident as this in my 38 years. We're looking at it and we take this serious and hope can have closure for all parties involved in a peaceful way."

He said an internal investigation was being allowed to run its course and if that investigation found deputy error they would follow through as their procedures say they should.

"We believe in deputy accountability," he said, adding, "I have met with all parties involved and everyone seemed to want to bring this to a closure, even the alleged victims in this want peaceful resolution."

High profile Atlanta attorney Don Samuel has taken the case, less because of the case itself and more because of a friendship he has with the elder Kalonjis, as well as their son Bruno, who coaches his children in soccer.

"I've known the family for years. Joseph and Angelica, but even more their son Bruno. He's a renowned soccer coach and has coached my kids. I have been to the bakery that they own. I see Bruno two or three times a week."

While Samuel praises how the Newton County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office handled the situation roughly 48 hours after the Kalonjis arrests, he questions the deputies who made the decisions to arrest the couple that night without listening to their pleas to contact their son for paperwork proving they owned the home.

"What I have significant questions about are the six deputies who went out to the house that night, and for the life of me I cannot understand why one of them could not have spent five minutes to look into what was going on... They can't spend 30 seconds to make a phone call... instead they just throw them into the jail, still make no phone call, still make no effort to find out what's going on, just throw them in the jail and go home for the night," Samuel said Tuesday.

"I can't understand that. I can't even imagine what the explanation is going to be by the six officers who were on the scene that night... that can't be the way that deputies on the scene govern themselves so something is really wrong at that point."

Although Samuel stressed that the family has not made up their mind, and are still just mulling things over, the possibility of legal action against both the NCSO and the Canoles is not out of the question.

"We have not made a final decision," he said.

But the family does know one thing. They plan on continuing to renovate the home and on eventually moving there.
"They're nervous," he said, of living next door to the two men who reportedly threatened to shoot them if they didn't put their hands up, according to the AJC. But he said the family hopes that a condition of the Canoles' bond is that they are not allowed to possess any weapons.

"I would hope they [the Canoles] would recognize what they did was wrong," said Samuel. "But apparently they seem to think what they did was perfect, they would do it again, and apparently they think they are within their Second Amendment rights to assault people. I didn't see that in the Second Amendment, not in my law school class anyway."

The Kalonji family did not return calls for comment as of press time.