LILBURN, Ga. - The suspect in Sunday's deadly shooting at a Lilburn Walmart made his first court appearance on Wednesday.
Boaz Anthony Fordyce, 37,told the judge he has retained an attorney. Fordyce is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and theft by shoplifting.
Fordyce's preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 19.
The case is baffling to investigators. Fordyce, who was dishonorably discharged from the military but has no real criminal history, is accused of pulling a gun and shooting Walmart loss prevention officer J.D. Ferguson, when Ferguson tried to stop him from stealing three televisions.
"We speculated previously prior to his arrest why might somebody use deadly force to stop an arrest for what is in the grand scheme of things a fairly minor crime, but based on the conversations we had with him we are no closer to figuring out why then when we started," Lilburn Police Captain Thomas Bardugon said.
Lilburn police got a big break in the case from a Crime Stoppers tip. The tipster named the 37-year-old as the man who shot and killed Ferguson.
Early Tuesday morning police secured a warrant for his arrest, but believed Fordyce had fled to New York. Just after one Tuesday afternoon, investigators following up on leads in the case in the Doraville area, spotted Fordyce at an area business. He was arrested without incident.
"About one o'clock this afternoon our investigators were following some additional leads in Doraville when they actually realized he was in a business not too far for them," said Capt. Thomas Bardugon with Lilburn Police.
Capt. Bardugon said they were able to make an arrest as quickly as they did because of the more than 100 tips they received from the public after releasing surveillance video.
Fordyce was booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center on one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of felony theft by shoplifting.
J. D. Ferguson, 25, was working at the store located on Lawrenceville Highway and Pleasant Hill Road just before 9 p.m. Police said he and another employee noticed a man trying to leave the store with three flat screen TVs without paying. The workers confronted the man just inside the Walmart's front door. A physical altercation ensued, according to police, and the suspect then pulled a .38 caliber pistol and shot Ferguson.
"He is someone we would not expect to have committed this crime, he does not have a criminal history to speak of, he is not on probation, parole or have any other criminal history," said Capt. Bardugon. "We are still trying to figure out exactly what it was that caused him to react so violently to the arrest for shoplifting."
Customers called 911 after hearing the gunshot and learning Ferguson had been shot.
"There were people running in all directions," said Victoria Lagunas who was inside the Walmart. Lagunas said at first she thought it was an active shooter.
"We honestly did not know what was going on or if there was going to be any other shootings. It was terrifying," said Lagunas.
Lagunas dialed 911.
"We were a couple of aisles away and then we heard those shots and we went to go see, but the person is down on the ground," Lagunas told a 911 dispatcher.
Employees also called for help.
"He's still breathing, but he's shot," said a man who identified himself as Garth Brown to a Gwinnett County dispatcher.
With the guidance of a 911 operator, Walmart employees tried to help by putting pressure on his wound.
"It's not under control," another employee said of Ferguson's bleeding. "We need [paramedics] here immediately!"
Emergency responders rushed the victim to Gwinnett Medical, but he did not survive.
“We are deeply saddened by the senseless and tragic loss of our friend and colleague last night. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Ferguson family at this difficult time. We will continue to support law enforcement in their ongoing investigation," Walmart said in a statement Monday morning.
Ferguson's wife, Tiana set up a "Ferguson Benevolent Fund" GoFundMe page. In it she said her husband left behind a son, Jordan, and two daughters, Aryana and Ava.
"Anything you choose to give to the surviving members of Jaseramie Ferguson's family out of the love and compassion of your heart will cause great comfort and thanksgiving to God in them, as they trust God for their daily needs in this present season in their lives," she wrote. "Thank you so much for your love and support."
Police said because of the violent nature of the crime, they believe he likely has a criminal past.