Candlelight Vigil for Mun "Moon" Cha and Jimquez Aiken
Wednesday, June 3, 7 p.m.
At Magnet Bottle Shop parking lot
Funeral service for Jimquez Aikens is Friday, June 5, noon
Viewing will be Thursday, June 4, noon - 8 p.m.
Both at the Church at Covington, 11975 Hwy 142, Oxford, GA
Funeral service for Mun Cha is Saturday, June 6, 11 a.m.
Viewing will be Friday, June 5, 8 p.m.
Both at Lee's Funeral Home and Crematory, 4067 Industrial Park Drive, Norcross, GA 30071
As a mountain of flowers, bears, candles and hand drawn cards grows around the Magnet Package Shop, more customers reflect on the kindness of the store's owner, Mun "Moon" Cha, and what has been described as a "senseless" act of violence.
The violence stems from 36-year-old Rockdale County resident Jeffrey Pitts, who killed the liquor-store owner Sunday afternoon inside the shop after a disagreement involving a previous unpaid transaction. Pitts also killed a customer who was inside the shop at the time, and then he went to his 3535 Ebenezer Road residence and shot his mother in the arm and father in the head. He was then killed in a shootout when he fired at deputies with an AR-15 assault rifle, according to the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office.
Carrolton County resident Dionne Ellison-Gower took a two-hour trip to Rockdale in order to pay respects to Cha and place flowers at the memorial.
"My husband and I used to live right down here," she told The News. "My husband owned a bar in Covington. We used to get all our liquor purchases from here.
"We drove from Carrollton to leave some flowers. It's heartbreaking. I heard last night... I was praying to God it wasn't him or his wife."
Cha, 44, inherited the store from his parents, and the family had operated it in the community for about 15 years.
Cha and his wife Su Young did not have children but were trying to have a child, said customer Regina Carter, and he was trying to cut back some of his working hours on Sunday. Carter has been coming to the store since 2007 and is helping to organize a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, June 3, 7 p.m., at the store's parking lot along with donations for Aikens' children.
Frankie Layfield said Cha treated everyone like family.
Joe Fanning, another customer of Cha's, says he's "hurt" by his loss.
"That's a real hurt feeling," he said. "They're real good people. As nice as they could be."
Fanning took his 5-year-old granddaughter, Alissa, to the memorial too. She liked going to the store because Cha and his wife would always give her lollipops.
"I got out of the car, and I walked over by the door, and I put the bear by the door, Pooh," she said.
The customer that died, 39-year-old Otonicar Jimquez Aiken, was a husband and father of three, with a 2 year old, 8 year old and 15 year old.
Darrell Stodghill, Aiken's father, says that Aiken was only making a quick trip to the liquor store.
"What makes it (even worse), yesterday was his son's (eighth) birthday," said Stodghill. "Cooking on the grill, he said, ‘I'll be right back.'"
A woman, who didn't want to be named, cried out "I don't understand it. It doesn't make any sense to me. I can't imagine someone doing something like that. God forbid if I had been in here yesterday. This was completely senseless."
Several neighbors who live along the 3500 block of Ebenezer Road were surprised when they heard two of the shooting victims were an elderly couple who lived on the street.
Pitts' parents, 63-year-old Alan and 64-year-old Judith, moved into their 3535 Ebenezer Road residence in 1986, where they have lived since.
None of the neighbors wanted their identities revealed, but a neighbor who was inside their residence at the time of the shootout, told The News the couple didn't deserve to be shot.
"They were good people," the neighbor said.
Life in high school
Pitts was a member of the Heritage High School graduating class of 1997.
Rockdale County resident Don Pollard was a member of the same class. He vaguely remembers Pitts.
"I don't remember him all that well," he said. "It's been almost 20 years."
However, he was able to recall a few details about Pitts, like Pitts having a hearing impairment.
"He had to wear two really large hearing aids," said Pollard. "It was the first time I saw someone my age wearing hearing aids."
He described Pitts as "pretty reserved" and meek. But, in Pitts' senior year, he seemed to open up a little bit more to people.
"He was pretty quiet," Pollard said." He wasn't very popular but seemed to grow into his own. He seemed to have more friends by senior year."
Like most people who saw and heard about the events that transpired Sunday, Pollard was stunned when he heard about what happened, but even more so when he saw it was a former classmate.
"When I saw the picture (of Jeffrey Pitts) in the news I recognized him. I was pretty shocked," he said. "We've never had that kind of incident with any other classmate."
Run-ins with the law
Pitts had no criminal history with the RCSO. His only brush with the law in this area came in November 2010.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office (NCSO) arrested him for driving under the influence and being in possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. He received a fine, community service and 12 months of probation the offense.
The RCSO does have four incidents that involve Pitts, but none of them are for criminal activity. However, these reports do shed some light into the mind of Pitts, who may have been dealing with some kind of mental illness for some time.
According to the RCSO, they have yet to determine if Pitts suffered from a mental illness.
However, on the 911 call Sunday, Pitts' father told operators that his son was mentally ill and had shot him in the head.
In a report from April 17, 2004, two days after Pitts turned 25, a female victim reported Pitts making harassing phone calls to her for several weeks.
"She stated (Jeffrey) keeps calling, confessing his love for her and he attempts to get her to confess her love for him," Deputy Michelle Haywood wrote in the report.
Rodgers claimed that a year ago she spoke to Pitts at a bar for about five minutes by way of her boyfriend, who knew Pitts from them attending high school together.
Shortly after that encounter, Pitts started calling her. Rodgers claimed to have never given Pitts her number, but Pitts told her that she did.
Pitts also told Rodgers that he knows where she lives as well.
"Rogers stated, she has asked Pitts not to call her and that she was not interested in him," wrote Haywood. "Rogers stated, Pitts continues to call her and now she fears him."
Exactly two years later, on April 17, 2006, Pitts called deputies to his residence to report suspicious activity occurring at his residence at 3535 Ebenezer Road.
Pitts told Deputy Julie Cooley that he believes someone has been coming in the residence, which was shared by Pitts' parents and brother, and taking things. On another occasion, Pitts said he found women's underwear on his dresser,heard knocking on windows at night and gunshots.
There were no signs of forced entry,
"Jeffrey believes someone has gotten a key, but he (couldn't) advise how they might have obtained it," Cooley wrote.
Pitts also believed one of his neighbors had gotten someone at the power department to cut the wires to the house alarm system so that it doesn't go off when he comes in.
Cooley then spoke with Pitts' father, Alan, on the phone.
"He stated that Jeffrey has ‘issues' and this is not the first time he's displayed paranoid behavior," wrote Cooley.
On Pitts' birthday four years ago, a deputy was called to his residence again. This time the call came from a "third-party caller" who stated the resident at this location sounded upset.
When Deputy Christopher Lee arrived at the scene, he found Pitts sitting in his Jeep in his boxer shorts.
"I attempted to make contact with Mr. Pitts but he appeared to be in an altered state," wrote Lee in his report. "I was unable to get any information from him and was unable to determine if he was on medication."
On the ground next to the jeep was a pair of pants belonging to Pitts. Inside the pocket of the pants was a knife.