OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. - The family of a murdered Oconee County RaceTrac clerk said they are relieved that his suspected killer, Ahkil Nasir Crumpton, is finally behind bars.
It's been almost a year since 23-year-old Elijah Wood was killed while he was working the overnight shift at the RaceTrac located of Macon Highway. Around 1:40 a.m. on March 19, 2021, a masked gunman walked into the store, pointed his handgun at Wood, and pulled the trigger, investigators said.
"Everybody that works here this last year had beat themselves to death over this case. It is very emotional for us. It is very tiring for us. We are glad to get the last chapter of this book finished," Oconee County Sheriff James A. Hale Jr. said
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office said in February they were notified by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms of a ballistic match for the firearm used in Wood's murder. According to investigators, the match showed the same gun was used in July at a homicide in Philadelphia.
"I can't speak on the ongoing matter, but I can say that Oconee County Sheriff's Office reached out to the US attorney's office seeking our assistance," US Attorney Peter Leary of the Middle District of Georgia confirmed.
Wednesday morning, FBI agents and a SWAT team arrested Ahkil Nasir Crumpton for the crime.
"NIBIN or the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network proved to be a valuable tool in helping us solve this case. And much like the TV show forensic files it is really the technology behind the science," ATF Speacial agent Alicia Jones exclaimed.
Posting on Facebook, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office said "today was the day Elijah Wood’s family, everyone here at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, and our community has been waiting for. WE GOT HIM!"
"It’s a great relief to finally have the suspect in custody," Oconee County Sheriff James A. Hale Jr. said in a statement. "For the past year Oconee Co. investigators along with our state, federal, and local law enforcement partners have tirelessly worked this difficult case. Although challenging, we were always confident we would find the person responsible for this senseless murder."
Wood's family told FOX 5 that this was the day they had been waiting for, but that the fight for justice was just beginning.
"It was kind of a weight lifted off of me personally," said Tripp Lemmonds, Wood's brother-in-law. "He didn't just take Elijah's life. He ruined his own life. He had a lot of opportunities in front of him too and I kind of feel sad for him in that way."
He said they are relieved to know that the man suspected of being Wood's killer is under arrest.
"I don't believe in taking a life for a life, but I hope he gets every year and every day they can give him," Lemmonds said.
RaceTrac also put out a statement following the arrest that reads:
"We continue to be devastated by this senseless tragedy. Our hope is that Elijah’s family and the Oconee County community rests a little easier now that a suspect has been identified. The Watkinsville RaceTrac team will remember him as the always smiling big teddy bear who was an incredibly hard worker and their go-to guy. Elijah will be dearly missed by the entire RaceTrac family."
Crumpton faces weapons charges in Pennsylvania, but sources believe those charges could be upgraded. It was not clear when he would be extradited back to Georgia.
The Oconee County Sheriff will speak publicly about the investigation Thursday for the first time since the arrest of Crumpton.
Who is Ahkil Crumpton?
A Philadelphia native, Crumpton attended Los Angeles Valley Community College before to transferring to UGA.
In Athens, Crumpton was a wide receiver for the University of Georgia from 2017 to 2019. He played in 24 total games in his career, according to UGA Athletics.
According to investigators, Crumpton was a student at UGA until 2021, the year that Wood was killed.
Who was Elijah Wood?
Wood was beloved by many and was apparently known well by the sheriff's office investigating his murder.
A memorial stood in front of the RaceTrac where Wood worked and died months after the incident.
Wood's father, Todd Wood, told Hale in a video posted on the sheriff's office YouTube channel before the arrest that said he spent months mourning his son's death but the grief will never go away.
"I prefer to view this as, God's got it in his hands, he's always got it in his hands," Todd Wood said. "I completely trust the law enforcement behind this."