Chris McKinley and his wife, Leah, were home watching TV on the couch on Monday evening, with their 1-year-old baby probably fast asleep, when the police suddenly showed up. Just moments later, McKinley’s dog was dead and he was lying in his own driveway, shot in the leg. One of the police officers who entered McKinley’s home was also badly shot — by one of his fellow officers.
What on earth happened?
[For an update on the wrong-house shooting story, see below.]
A neighbor who was out for a walk saw the cop cars outside the home of Chris and Leah McKinley — and then heard the shots. Next thing she knew, Chris was staggering out onto his driveway.
“‘They just shot me, they just shot me, and they killed my dog!'” he said, according to the neighbor, Tama Colson.
“I got him to lay down, took my shirt off and rendered first aid,” Colson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And Chris just kept saying, ‘Why did they shoot me? Why did they shoot my dog?'”
The DeKalb County, Georgia cops thought they were responding to 911 call about a suspicious person trying to get into a home in the neighborhood on suburban Boulderwoods Drive, just south of Atlanta.
But as they later learned the hard way, they were in the wrong house.
They walked in through a screen door, into the kitchen of the house. As soon as the McKinley family dog approached them, they opened fire, killing the female boxer instantly. Then, Chris McKinley came into the room, and the officers shot him too.
Somehow, in the hail of bullets, one of the police officers shot another officer in the hip. Officer Travis Jones, who had been with the DeKalb County Police only since last November, was listed on Tuesday in serious but stable condition at a nearby hospital after severe blood loss.
The other two officers in the Keystone Cops melée were named as eight-year department veteran Quhanna Lloyd, employed since January 2007, and Officer Timothy Hadren, a DeKalb cop since October 2010, according to a report by Atlanta’s WGCL-TV.
UPDATE 9/3/2015: The family of Chris McKinley issued their first statement about the wrong-house shooting late Wednesday. In the brief comment issued through attorney Mark Bullman, the family thanked the public for their well-wishes following the bizarre and seemingly inexplicable incident.
“The family would ask for your prayers and patience, as they recover; Chris from the gunshot wound, his wife from the trauma of seeing her husband shot and dog killed in their home by DeKalb Police, and the whole family from the loss of their dog,” the family said in the short email.
The family also released a photo of the family dog, a “special friend” to Chris and Leah McKinley’s one-year-old son, they said.
The police officers in the incident shot the dog not just once, but three times.
What has yet to be explained is why the officers were so trigger happy that they left a trail of bloodshed and tears in a home where, police later acknowledged, the occupants were completely innocent. Chris McKinley did not have a gun. He was identified in local media reports as the owner of a media company and police said there was zero evidence of any criminal activity in the McKinley home.
“None of us should be speculating or assuming anything at this point,” said DeKalb Director of Public Safety Cedric Alexander. “There needs to be an investigation. There was a police officer who was severely injured and had a great deal of blood lost. We’re going to continue to pray for the officer and the homeowner.”
Chris McKinley was released from the hospital Tuesday, returning to his home on crutches and offering no comment to reporters. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong in the disastrous police blunder.
[Images: WSB-TV Screen Grab, Facebook]