A University of Georgia professor who police suspect in the fatal shootings of his ex-wife and two men outside a theater near campus Saturday disappeared in his Jeep after dropping his children off with a neighbor, authorities said.
A nationwide manhunt was on for 57-year-old George Zinkhan, whom neighbors and others described as a quiet, introverted and well-respected marketing professor at the university in Athens.
Members of a local theater group had gathered midday at the Athens Community Theater when Zinkhan left his children in his car and fired at the group, said Police Capt. Clarence Holeman. Killed were Zinkhan's ex-wife Marie Bruce, 47, Tom Tanner, 40, and Ben Teague, 63, Holeman said. Two others were injured by flying shrapnel.
SWAT members swarmed Zinkhan's neighborhood and authorities searched his university office but came up empty. It didn't appear he had used his credit cards or ATM card, police said.
Zinkhan has been a professor in the Terry College of Business and had no disciplinary problems, university spokesman Pete Konenkamp said. He has taught at the school since the 1990s.
The three victims were all involved with the Town & Gown Players Inc., a group that had planned an evening performance of "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" at the theater. The show was canceled after the shooting.
Zinkhan had argued with at least one of the victims prior to the shooting, Holeman said. After walking away, he returned with the guns and opened fire.
Zinkhan then drove his young son and daughter to a next-door neighbor's home in Bogart and dropped them off, only saying he needed them to watch them for about an hour because of an emergency.
Neighbor Robert Covington said when he asked Zinkhan's daughter, who is about 10 years old, about the emergency "all she would relate to me was there was something about a firecracker." The children were with police, and Covington said his neighborhood for a while was "police central." Covington described Zinkhan and Bruce as still living together in the house.
Coroner Sonny Wilson said the three victims were shot multiple times. Two different guns were involved, and neither was recovered at the scene, nor at Zinkhan's two-story colonial in the tidy middle-class suburb of Athens, Holeman said.
Authorities issued a nationwide alert for Zinkhan.