DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Authorities in DeKalb County made an arrest in the August 24 shooting at Fred’s in Rainsville, after a grand jury indictment Thursday.
Kelly Jack Mayo, of Fort Payne, was arrested earlier this month after a robbery at a Fred’s store in Cedartown, Georgia. He faces at least 10 felony charges in that case.
A DeKalb County grand jury met Thursday, October 25 and indicted the 45-year-old Mayo on five counts related to the Rainsville robbery and shooting:
- Two counts of attempted murder
- Two counts of shooting into an occupied business
- One count of robbery
DeKalb County investigators went to Cedartown on Thursday to formally arrest Mayo, who remains in custody in the Polk County Jail.
Mayo was previously employed by at least one Fred’s store in Georgia.
“As far as we’re concerned or we are aware, his employment was terminated,” DeKalb County District Attorney Mike O’Dell said, though he declined to say if it was connected.
“Since he has not given a statement, his motive to us at this time is speculative, and until we know otherwise I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying that but clearly there have to be circumstances behind this that would have prompted this conduct,” O’Dell said.
Shooting victim Matthew Whitt believes Mayo’s actions were in response to his firing.
“There’s a lot of strain on the economy, and if you are hard up for money, go get you a bag and pick up a can, don’t get mad at somebody because you lose your job,” Whitt said.
“Many people lose their jobs every day and they’re not out shooting folks because there’s people trying to make a living. It’s not our fault we have a job, we’re trying to pay our bills and take care of our kids.”
Investigators said Mayo never worked at the Rainsville store, but visited there at least once.
AUGUST 24: RAINSVILLE SHOOTING
Whitt and a co-worker, 24-year-old Josh Nance, locked the store for the night, and were cleaning the area and stocking shelves when they saw the man try to open the front door.
“I thought it was a joke when it first happened, I thought it was somebody playing a joke on us,” he said. “After he showed the gun at the door it kind of became real, and after you hear the first shot, you kind of freak out.”
One of the first shots fired hit Nance in the back, and Whitt ran away down an aisle.
The masked man shot again, and a bullet lodged in Whitt’s spine.
He fell to the floor, unable to move his legs, but is now able to get around with a walker.
“[The prognosis looks good, but the bullet is always going to be in my back," he said.
"I'm sure there's always going to be a pain associated with that."
The 39-year-old Whitt said the greatest challenge is learning to adjust to non-stop pain.
Doctors expect Josh Nance to remain paralyzed from the chest down.
He remains in a rehabilitation facility, and did not attend the arrest announcement.
"We are grateful and we thank the Lord for that."
Matthew's father, Billy Jay Whitt, said the sheriff's office contacted him shortly after Mayo's arrest in Georgia to tell him they were working on putting a big bow on a gift for the family.
Mayo's indictment on October 24 was two months to the day after the Rainsville shooting, and the announcement on October 25 brought Christmas to the Whitt's two months early.
Billy Jay Whitt said he got the gift he wanted.
OCTOBER 4: CEDARTOWN, GEORGIA INCIDENT
Investigators said Mayo entered the Fred’s store in Cedartown store just before closing time on October 4 and tied up the cashier, who got free and called 911.
Police responded and surrounded the building, but said Mayo took an employee hostage at gunpoint out a back door where police were waiting.
Investigators said he used the woman as a shield to get to car, where he forced her into the driver’s seat while he got into the back seat and held a gun to her head.
Officers pursued and rammed the vehicle and pinned closed the rear doors, to contain Mayo and allow the hostage to escape without injury.
DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris said the Georgia authorities seized a .45 caliber firearm from Mayo during the arrest, the same type of weapon used in Rainsville.
Witnesses of the Rainsville shooting told investigators the culprit was in a small dark red car, and the car Mayo was driving in Georgia matched the description.
Sheriff Harris requested forensic testing of Mayo’s gun along with cartridges retrieved from the crime scene in Rainsville, and a Birmingham lab confirmed it was the same weapon.
RAINSVILLE COMMUNITY RESPONSE
Sheriff Jimmy Harris, District Attorney Mike O’Dell, and Rainsville Chief of Police Charles Centers each talked about the tight-knit community of Rainsville.
They spoke about how people really do know everyone in town and care for each other.
“Rainsville is a beautiful place to live and to work for all the folks that happened in this area, and they’re not accustomed to something like this happening,” O’Dell said.
“You can imagine what a shock it was, not just to Josh and Matt and their families but to the community at large … and we realized the concern and the anxiety among the citizens of Rainsville and surrounding areas was extremely heightened.”
“Many people were essentially living in fear and so it was deeply gratifying that this case broke the way it did, and these gentlemen took advantage of the leads they did and they brought this investigation to fruition as quickly as they did,” O’Dell said.
Rainsville residents also rallied around the victims.
Jimmy Joliet, owner of The Barter Post, created Facebook pages to provide health updates on Josh Nance and Matthew Whitt, and spearheaded fundraising efforts.
Several stores, including Fred’s, set up donation jars to help with medical costs.
“Heartwarming. I never knew so many people liked me.”
Whitt hopes to return to work soon and be able to care for his family again after they spent the past two months caring for him.
“Two daughters almost lost their dad because some guy got mad that he got fired; it makes me angry, and I’m glad he’s not here,” Whitt said.
“He pretty much destroyed Josh’s life, and there’s no words that can say “I’m sorry for what I did” when so many people have lost their jobs before and they ain’t went out and shot people. There’s other jobs.”
He said for a while it looked like gunman would get away, but praised the continuous work of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the Rainsville Police Department.