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Standoff ends with public suicide
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A standoff between Hinesville police and a gunman Wednesday in the parking lot of the American Legion Post ended when the gunman took his own life.

Officers said Julian Saenz, 33, shot himself.

According to reports filed by HPD Officer Jerry Britting and Patrolmen Ivan Saez and Lonnie Bowman, shortly after 1 a.m., Britting responded to a call of shots fired in Victory Village Mobile Home Park on East Oglethorpe Highway. As he entered the area, he was redirected to the rear of the nearby Legion post. As Britting drove there, he said he heard seven to 10 gunshots.

Britting requested backup. As he entered the parking lot he saw two men, later identified as Saenz and Kyle Knoblock, 30, facing each other about 10 feet apart.

Knoblock backed off as Britting approached. The officer said, however, that Saenz turned, ran and hid behind Knoblock’s Ford pickup. A witness, Helen Miller, told Britting that Saenz was the shooter.

Det. Susy Jackson said the men had argued over a woman, and that led Saenz to pull a gun. He pointed it at Knoblock, but fired at the ground and Knoblock’s truck, Jackson said.

Drawing his service weapon, Britting told Saenz to show his hands several times. Saenz reportedly told the officer to stop yelling at him.

Saez arrived and took cover behind Britting’s patrol car. The officers again told Saenz to show both his hands. At one point Saenz raised his left hand, but not his right.

When Bowman arrived, he said he saw Saenz holding what appeared to be a silver handgun. The patrolman grabbed a rifle from his vehicle and got behind Britting’s car.

Britting grabbed a shotgun from his vehicle and, while chambering a round, saw Saenz raise his right hand. He was not holding a gun.

As the officers approached, telling him to step away from the vehicle, Saenz reached for his gun, put it under his chin and pulled the trigger.

Saenz was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses at the club said Saenz, who was a civilian employee on Fort Stewart, was a nice man who had been drinking at the time. Toxicology tests were not completed, however.

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