An alleged burglary attempt turned deadly Saturday night in Hinesville when a homeowner confronted a home-invasion suspect, leading to a gunfight that left the homeowner, a soldier, dead and injured the suspect.
Hinesville Police Department Officer Tika Halley, who was dispatched to Colonial Parks Condos in the 1100 block of Pineland Avenue regarding a burglary in progress and a shooting, filed a report on the incident.
Accord-ing to that report, Halley arrived
and was joined by Lt. Thomas Ovitt and K-9 Officer Tony Durham. They entered the residence and found the victim, later identified as Jeremias Ortiz, 25, lying on the kitchen floor.
Halley spoke with Ortiz’s wife, who said she and her husband had been upstairs shortly before midnight when they heard a noise downstairs, so Ortiz grabbed his handgun and went downstairs to investigate. As Ortiz walked down the stairs, he yelled that he had a gun and commanded the intruder to leave. Ortiz’s wife said the
intruder said he also had a gun and threatened to shoot.
As Ortiz approached the kitchen, the gunman reportedly fired at him, prompting Ortiz to fire back, according to Ortiz’s wife, who told officers she heard four or five shots. She went to investigate, found her husband on the floor and saw a person standing in the kitchen wearing a white mask and a black hoodie.
Ortiz’s wife told Halley that the intruder fired a round in her direction, so she hit the floor and crawled to the front door, where she exited the residence and sought help.
When emergency medical technicians arrived, they transported Ortiz to Willowbrook Plaza, where he was airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. Maj. Thomas Cribbs said Ortiz was placed on life support, he died at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Liberty County Coroner Reginald Pierce.
The home-invasion suspect apparently was wounded during the exchange, and he left a trail of blood on the ground when he left Ortiz’s residence. Using his tracking dog, Durham followed the trail to another condo in the complex.
Officers did not find the suspect in the unit, but a short time later, a man identified by Cribbs as Kyle Diamond Luke Perry showed up at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Perry was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, burglary and possession of marijuana. He is currently under 24-hour guard at the hospital, where he is being treated for his wounds.
On Sunday morning, Cribbs and Detective Jeff Davis executed a search warrant on Perry’s condo and were seen carrying a bag out of the unit.
Mariano Escalante, who lives next door to Ortiz’s unit, was watching a movie in his room at the time of the incident and said he heard four or five shots ring out. He said he looked out his second-floor bedroom window saw someone run from the unit next door. He went downstairs and saw a bullet hole in the wall his unit shares with Ortiz’s. The bullet was lodged in a wall on the opposite side of the room.
"If I were to have walked through here for whatever reason, I could have been hit in the face," Escalante said.
Cribbs said murder charges likely will be added to the charges Perry already faces.