A 72-year-old Thomas County man has been charged with felony murder in the Thursday shooting death of his nephew.

Byron Griner, Stewart Road, Ochlocknee, also is charged with aggravated assault in the death of John Mark Morris, 39, Stewart Road, Ochlocknee.

Thomas County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded about 2 p.m. Thursday to an area between 1700 and 1800 blocks of Stewart Road and found Morris lying on the ground. Morris was transported to Archbold Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim had been shot. Several firearms were recovered.

Investigators are trying to determine if one of the firearms was used in the homicide, said Lt. Steven Jones, sheriff’s office public information officer.

Griner and Morris lived “fairly close” to each other, Jones said.

When asked if the sheriff’s office was aware of previous conflicts involving the suspect and victim, Jones said, “That’s part of the investigation.”

Jones declined to respond to questions about the aggravated assault charge.

A sheriff’s office incident report shows the shooting took place at 1709 Stewart Road, which is listed as Griner’s address.

Griner told responding officers that Morris “was shooting at him and he shot back and shot Morris behind the well house,” according to the incident report.

Deputies began a search for Morris and found him — unresponsive — lying face down on the ground behind the well house, the report shows.

“Mr. Griner was taken into custody at the scene without incident,” Jones said at a press conference Friday morning.

Jones said evidence gathered at the scene by the sheriff’s office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation personnel will substantiate what happened. He said the name of the person who called 911 about the shooting has not been released.

Morris, a 1989 Thomas County Central High School graduate, attended Valdosta State University and the University of Georgia.

He had been maintenance supervisor at Lane Creek Golf Course in Athens and had worked at Pro Body Shop in Thomasville.

Griner is being held in the Thomas County Jail, pending arraignment in Thomas County Magistrate Court.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.


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