Hate-filled documents calling the Parkland, Fla., mass shooter a hero were found at the home of the Snellville man who fired at least 17 shots and hit at least seven vehicles, wounding two drivers, Friday afternoon in northeast Hall County.
The man, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while fleeing authorities in his car, was identified Saturday as Rex Harbour, 26.
“He had the weapons, he had the ammunition and obviously he had the will to inflict a lot of pain and a lot of hate,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said at a press conference Saturday, May 5.
In the documents found at the home where he lived with his parents, Harbour wrote that “(Nikolas) Cruz gave him courage and confidence,” Couch said. “The remainder of the documents that I saw were very hate-filled in that regard.”
Cruz killed 17 people Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The two wounded drivers, a 54-year-old Gainesville man shot in the left hip and a 73-year-old Demorest man shot in the lower left leg, were transported Friday afternoon to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Both were listed in satisfactory condition Friday. Another driver, a 49-year-old woman, sustained a slight scratch from glass shattering when a bullet hit her vehicle’s windshield.
Couch did not release the victims’ names during the press conference.
Investigators with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office are working to determine why Harbour took position in the woods off Ga. 365 near Tribble Gap Road and shot a 9 mm pistol at northbound vehicles.
Couch said intelligence checks done with the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI did not show any history of violence or links to any criminal activity. The authorities also did not find any links between Harbour and Hall County.
“We don’t have any information that ties him to this area.” Couch said. “Purely my speculation of being an investigator and sheriff is that possibly he thought this was an isolated area that he could come up and shoot at people and possibly get away with it.”
Emergency dispatchers received a call from a woman around 11:48 a.m. Friday saying her husband had been shot while traveling northbound on Ga. 365. More reports of gunshots and cars being struck began to come in as authorities were dispatched to the area.
Just 11 minutes after the initial call, while a Hall County sheriff’s deputy was questioning one of the injured victims, he saw a beige 2003 Buick Century pull out of the woods and head northbound. He drew his weapon and headed toward the vehicle.
Couch said Harbour turned the Buick around and sped away at 60 to 80 mph, leading two sheriff’s deputies and a couple of Georgia State Patrol officers on a short, 40-second chase, before Harbour pulled out a 9 mm pistol and shot himself.
His vehicle continued traveling down the road before it came to a stop in the median, just north of Whitehall Road.
After searching the vehicle, authorities found numerous firearms and an abundance of ammunition: 9 mm handguns, a .22-caliber Sears bolt-action rifle, a 12-gauge Springfield shotgun and a BB gun. He also had about 350 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, 3,000 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition and 150 rounds of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition.
“We’re doing checks through the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and at this time we don’t believe any of the weapons were stolen,” Couch said. “We’ll see if they were registered to him or purchased by him.”
As authorities continued the investigation, they found a hunter’s trail camera in the woods near where they believed Harbour had been. After retrieving images from the trail camera, the photos showed Harbour walking toward the woodline prior to opening fire. He had two gun holsters on his hip underneath his shirt.
A search warrant was obtained for Harbour’s Snellville residence where authorities seized numerous electronic devices and the letters Harbour had written praising the Florida shooter. They found no specific target or explanation for Friday’s shooting.
“It appeared that he was targeting all Americans,” Couch said. “It didn’t specifically deal with any race, or ethnicity or anything of that nature. It was just very hate-filled and he targeted pretty much everybody.”
Authorities spoke with Harbour’s mother who said he was “mild-mannered and quiet.” His Facebook profile shows he graduated from Loganville High in 2010 and attended the University of Georgia from 2010 to 2012. He also worked in landscaping.
Couch said investigators, along with the GBI and FBI will continue going through the findings in Harbour’s car and at his residence in hopes of finding a motive.
“I’ve been in this business 36 years and sometimes we don’t always find out the answer ‘why’ people do such things that they do,” Couch said. “In this business, I’ve seen, too, that sometimes there’s just evil, and that may be the answer that we find here.”