HALL COUNTY, Ga. - Investigators have released the name of the man killed during an early morning exchange of gunfire with Hall County deputies inside a mobile home park Thursday. Three deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked to look into the deputy-involved shooting.
A 911 call came in at 6:20 Thursday morning. An armed suspicious man, later identified by the GBI as Joseph Villanueva, 29, from California, wandering through the Ridgeway Mobile Home Park. Investigators said deputies confronted the man and he took off running, that's when the gunfire started.
"He pulled a gun and began shooting at the deputies while he was running," said Derrech Booth with the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said deputies fearing for their safety and those who live in the neighborhood took out their own guns and shot back.
"Deputies drew weapons, returned fire and the suspect was hit by the gunfire and deceased," said Booth.
No deputies were hurt.
Many in the neighborhood were awake getting ready for work when they heard the gunshots. "All of a sudden I hear gunshots," said Denise Chavez.
As GBI agents spent hours in Denise Chavez's neighborhood, she wonders who the man was and why he was wandering around early in the morning with a gun.
Chavez said she knows with bullets flying through the neighborhood, the deputies or residents could easily have been hit.
"It's very frightening. I heard the gunshots but I didn't realize it was so close. I thought oh my gosh this isn't safe," said Chavez.
An autopsy will be performed Friday on Villanueva’s body.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office notes that the placing the three deputies on paid administrative leave is standard policy for incidents such as this one.