Police respond to active shooter at Bethlehem restaurant, juvenile shot in face multiple times

Written by: E. George

Published March 15, 2023 @ 9:40 PM ET

Barrow County (March 3, 2023) – Officers responded to the parking lot of Barrow Crossing in Bethlehem at approximately 11:30 PM for an active shooter call with one victim shot and the shooter still on scene. Upon arrival, they saw a juvenile male on the ground and an older male lying on top of him. Another man was on his knees with his arms down to his sides.

Once on the scene, with guns drawn, one of the officers asked for the location of the shooter. One of the males pointed at the man on his knees, Edwin Rodriguez Pena, 18. Officers described Pena as having long black hair and wearing all-black clothing.

Deputies began yelling for him to drop his weapon, and he tossed the gun five feet in front of him. They instructed him to lie on his stomach with his hands behind his back, and he obeyed.

After they secured the firearm and handcuffed Pena, one of the males ran over and tried kicking him while he lay on the ground. The officers separated him from the suspect.

As they walked Pena to a patrol car, he kept saying he was sorry. He said he thought the juvenile had a gun.

The victim’s mother arrived and explained that she works at Wings & Burgers Factory (WNB). After leaving for the night, the restaurant’s general manager called her, requesting that she return. He told her he observed a male employee on the cameras acting strangely and would like her to check on him. Her husband and son traveled to WNB to investigate.

The victim’s father explained to the officers that Pena seemed under the influence of narcotics, perhaps LSD or mushrooms, when he and his son entered the building to check on him. He had asked the suspect to come home with them and sleep on their couch, and Pena walked out into the parking lot willingly.

He stated that Pena suddenly started shooting at his teenage son several times. He ran over to apply pressure to the wounds and called 911. He said Pena pointed the gun at both him and his son, then turned it on himself and stated he would kill everyone there.

The victim’s mother stated she remained on the phone with the juvenile as they entered the restaurant. He stated that everything was ok, but then she heard a great deal of noise in the background.

Her son stopped responding to her questions over the phone, and she heard Pena yell that someone had been shot. She immediately drove to the scene.

Multiple witnesses said they observed the three males in the parking lot. One recalled hearing Pena yelling for help and claiming he shot someone but “was not going to shoot anyone else.” Another heard him state he only shot him because he thought he had a knife.

EMS arrived and tended to the victim, who had been shot multiple times in the face and arms but remained conscious. They transported him to the hospital. According to reports, the victim has many shattered bones and has been undergoing surgeries since his hospitalization. The victim was transferred from Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center to Grady Memorial Hospital for additional treatment.

The officers located five shell casings and a projectile in the parking lot, and one bullet slug on the sidewalk.

They arrested and transported Pena to the Barrow County Detention Center without incident. During intake, they found a waistband weapon holster on his person and submitted it into evidence.

Pena was charged with criminal attempt to commit a felony, possession of a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit certain felonies, two counts of aggravated battery, and five counts of aggravated assault. This case is currently pending in court.

Officer’s Narrative:
[Please note: The following is a direct transcription from the official initial incident report. The Georgia Gazette does not fix any spelling or grammatical errors that may exist. Any changes or redactions made by our staff are placed inside brackets. Some errors may exist. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The topics discussed may be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is advised.]

[NARRATIVE #1 on March 3, 2023]

On 03/03/2023 at approximately 2322 hours I responded code 3 (emergency lights and sirens) to Barrow Crossing located at 916 Loganville Highway Bethlehem, GA 30620 in reference to a victim of a shooting with the shooter still on scene.

Upon arrival, I observed two males laying on the ground and a third male on his knees. They were in the drive lanes of the parking lot near WNB Factory (916 Loganville Highway). One male (later identified as [WITNESS #1]) was laying on top of the other male on the ground. The other male laying on the ground was later identified as being a juvenile. I observed the third male (later identified as Edwin-Emiliano Rodriguez-Pena) just to the side of [WITNESS #1] and Juvenile 1. He was on his knees with his hands down by his side. Edwin had long black hair and was wearing all black clothing.

I drew my county issued Glock 45. I asked where the shooter was. [WITNESS #1] pointed at Edwin, who was still on his knees with his hands down by his side. He kept looking forward and did not move. Just as [WITNESS #1] pointed at Edwin as being the shooter, Edwin tossed a firearm away from his person and put his hands up. I instructed Edwin to crawl towards my direction. Deputy Kinney was on scene with me at this time. Edwin obeyed my orders to crawl and lay on his stomach with his hands behind his back.

I detained Edwin in handcuffs behind his back and patted him for weapons, none were found. I instructed Deputy Kinney to secure the firearm (Glock 17 serial #BWFN215). Deputy Kinney secured the firearm in his marked patrol vehicle. [WITNESS #1] suddenly ran to Edwin who was still laying on the ground handcuffed. [WITNESS #1] tried to kick Edwin. I was able to get and keep [WITNESS #1] away from Edwin. Once medical personnel arrived on scene, they took over medical care of Juvenile 1. Juvenile 1’s mother, [WITNESS #2], arrived on scene just after my arrival.

I assisted Edwin to his feet and secured him the back seat of my marked patrol vehicle. As I escorted Edwin to my patrol vehicle he repeatedly on his own stated he was sorry. While I obtained Edwin’s information, he spontaneously uttered that he was sorry for shooting Juvenile 1 and that he thought Juvenile 1 had a gun.

[WITNESS #2] advised she works at WNB Factory. She already left for the night when her general manger called her. He told her that while he was looking at the restaurant cameras, an employee was seen acting strange. He requested that the employee go be checked on. [WITNESS #2] stated that was when [WITNESS #1] and Juvenile 1 drove to WNB Factory to check on the employee. The employee was discovered to be Edwin. [WITNESS #2] stated Edwin was a part-time employee. While [WITNESS #1] and Juvenile 1 were at WNB Factory, she was on the phone with Juvenile 1. He told [WITNESS #2] everything was okay when she started to hear a lot of noise on the phone. [WITNESS #2] tried to get Juvenile 1 to respond to her but he was not. [WITNESS #2] stated she suddenly heard Edwin, through the phone, yelling someone was shot. [WITNESS #2] then drove to the scene and law enforcement was on scene when she arrived.

[WITNESS #1] stated he and Juvenile 1 went to WNB Factory to check on Edwin who was reported to be acting strange by the general manager. [WITNESS #2] asked [WITNESS #1] to go check on him. When [WITNESS #1] and Juvenile 1 arrived, [WITNESS #1] thought Edwin was acting like he was under the influence of narcotics. [WITNESS #1] tried to get Edwin to come home with them and they all started to leave WNB Factory. As they were outside in the parking lot, [WITNESS #1] said Edwin just started to shoot at Juvenile 1 several times. [WITNESS #1] ran over to help Juvenile 1 and called 911.

[WITNESS #3], witness, explained he was leaving work from Publix (916 Loganville Highway) and went to the front parking lot to his vehicle. [WITNESS #3] saw people ([WITNESS #1], Juvenile 1, and Edwin) laying on the ground. [WITNESS #3] called 911 when he realized someone had been shot.

[WITNESS #4], witness, explained he was walking outside of Publix to the parking lot with his employees when he was told that people were laying on the ground. [WITNESS #4] started to go assist the three individuals. [WITNESS #4] stated the male with long black hair (described to be Edwin) was yelling and cussing. Edwin was shouting for police and ambulances to come help. As [WITNESS #4] started to approach the males, he noticed that Edwin was holding a firearm. [WITNESS #4] backed away and had his employees leave the area for safety. [WITNESS #4] heard the male with the long black hair (again described as Edwin) say he shot someone and that he was not going to shoot anyone else. [WITNESS #4] walked away until law enforcement arrived.

[WITNESS #5] , witness, stated he was leaving work from Publix when he saw three males on the ground in the parking lot. He was with [WITNESS #3] when [WITNESS #3] called 911. [WITNESS #5] heard one male shouting for police and ambulance to come. [WITNESS #3] also heard the same male say he only shot someone because he thought that person had a knife.

Other deputies arrived on scene. Crime scene tape was put up and a crime scene log was started. Four shell casings were located in the parking lot in the area where Juvenile 1 was laying. A projectile was also located near where the juvenile was laying.

Deputy Kinney transported Edwin to the Barrow County Detention Center and turned over to the staff. Before Edwin was transferred to the back seat of Deputy Kinney’s marked patrol vehicle, he was searched for weapons and contraband, none were found. I searched the back seat of my marked patrol vehicle before and after Edwin was detained in the back seat of my for weapons and contraband, none were found.

Criminal Investigation Division (CID) responded to the scene. Crime scene also responded to the scene. The scene was turned over to CID and crime scene.

Pictures were attached to the report. Statements were completed and turned in.

Rodriguez was transported to the Barrow County Detention Center by Deputy Kinney and he was turned over to the staff.

[End of Narrative]

[NARRATIVE #2 on March 3, 2023]

On 3/3/2023, at 2322 hours, I was dispatched to the Publix at Barrow Crossing located at 916 Loganville Highway in reference to a gunshot. I responded to the location “code three” (lights and sirens).

As I entered into the parking lot, I observed a Juvenile male laying face down on the ground with another male on top of him holding his face. I observed another male on his knees just a few feet in front of them with a gun in his hand. I exited my vehicle, drew my weapon and aimed it at the male with the gun. Deputy Martinelli and I began giving loud verbal commands for the male to drop the weapon. The male threw the gun about 5 feet in front of him and went down on his hands and knees, followed by going into a prone position. The male, later identified as Edwin Rodriguez Pena, was then secured into handcuffs. As we were securing Edwin, a silver car pulled up beside us and the Juvenile’s mother, [WITNESS #2], jumped out of the vehicle and began running towards the Juvenile. I gave her loud verbal commands to stay at her vehicle to which she complied.

I ran over and grabbed the firearm that Edwin had been holding and secured it into the front seat of my vehicle.

I returned over to the juvenile male and his father, [WITNESS #1], and began rendering aid to the Juvenile until the med unit arrived on scene and began treating and preparing the Juvenile to be transported to the hospital. I observed that the Juvenile had multiple gunshots to the face and arms. I assisted the med unit with getting the Juvenile into the ambulance to be transported.

I then went over and began speaking with [WITNESS #1]. [WITNESS #1] explained to me that he works at the Wings and Burgers Restaurant that is located beside Publix. He stated that around 2220 hours, he left the restaurant at the end of his shift. When he returned home, he received a call from the store manager stating that Edwin was still at the restaurant and was acting strangely inside the store. He asked [WITNESS #1] to go back to the restaurant and check on him. [WITNESS #1] said he told the Juvenile to go with him back to the restaurant. When they arrived, he began speaking with Edwin and he noticed that he was acting out of character.

[WITNESS #1] stated that he believed that Edwin was high on either LSD or Shrooms. He asked Edwin to come back to his house with him and sleep on his couch for the night and Edwin agreed. [WITNESS #1] said that he locked the front door of the restaurant and they began walking towards his car. He told me that is when Edwin pulled out the gun and began shooting at them. [WITNESS #1] said he ran over to the Juvenile and began holding pressure on his wounds. [WITNESS #1] went on to say that Edwin was pointing the gun at both of them and then turned the gun on himself and said that he was going to kill everyone there. At that time is when we arrived on scene.

I asked [WITNESS #1] to complete a written witness form and he agreed. He explained to me that he does not write well and would need his wife to write the statement for him. I stood by [WITNESS #1] and [WITNESS #2] as she wrote the form for him as he was explaining it to her. I then asked [WITNESS #2] to complete a written witness statement form as well and she agreed.

Once the Crime Scene Technician arrived on scene, I turned the firearm that I had recovered over to her. Edwin was then removed from Deputy Martinelli’s vehicle, his handcuffs were checked for proper fit and double locked in safety. He was searched incident to arrest and then secured in the rear seat of my patrol vehicle.

I transported Edwin to the Barrow County Detention Center and turned him over to the Booking Deputies without incident. Prior to and after transport, a search of the rear seat of my patrol car was completed checking for contraband with negative results.

During the intake search of Edwin at the Detention Center, a in the waistband holster for the weapon was located. I took possession of the holster and then turned it over to the Crime Scene Technician.

[End of Narrative]

[NARRATIVE #3 on March 3, 2023]

On Friday, March 3, 2023, at approximately 2325 hrs, I responded “code 3” (emergency) to a gunshot/stab wound call at the Publix in Bethlehem located at 916 Loganville Hwy in Bethlehem GA. Upon arrival, I assisted deputies in obtaining written statements from the 911 caller and person who offered assistance to the victim. Both the 911 caller and the person who offered assistance stated that they did not see or hear the shooting occur.

I started a crime scene log and passed it on to assisting deputies when I was asked to go secure the suspect’s vehicle until a search warrant for the vehicle could be obtained. The vehicle was parked behind Sallys Beauty Supply 916 Loganville Hwy Bethlehem GA. The vehicle was a black 2016 Nissan Altima with GA tag [REDACTED] displayed.

[End of Narrative]

[NARRATIVE #4 on March 3, 2023]

On Friday March 3rd, 2023, I responded to 916 Loganville Hwy reference a person shot.

Upon arrival units on scene advised that the suspect was taken into custody shortly after arrival. I spoke to emergency personnel and they advised the victim had been shot multiple times but was conscious.

I started checking the scene for any evidence and possible shell casings. I located 4 shell casings in the parking lot infront of H&R Block and they appeared to be 9MM. I placed business cards beside the casings to indicate their location. Later a fifth casing was located in the same area of the others and a bullet slug was located on the sidewalk and also marked.

I advised dispatch to have the on-call investigator contact me. A short time later I spoke to Investigator Couch, and he stated he was enroute to the scene.

[End of Narrative]