Rodrigo Diaz, 22, was driving around with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking they had arrived at another friend’s house, his brother says. But instead he pulled into the driveway of Phillip Sailors, 69, who thought his home was being robbed, his lawyer says. Sailors then shot Diaz, according to the police report, citing what Sailors told officers at the scene. Diaz later died while in the intensive care unit.
“Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” says his brother David E. Diaz-Valencia, 23. “The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”
When officers arrived, Angie Rebolledo, Diaz’s girlfriend, had blood on her jeans, both arms and both hands as she was attempting to get a response from him and screamed frantically that her boyfriend had been shot, according to police.
Police arrested Sailors, of Lilburn, Georgia, who was booked into the Gwinnett County jail Sunday afternoon and charged with murder, according to the police report.
“At this point we have established probable cause to charge Mr. Sailors and when the investigation is complete, we will turn over the case file to the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Officer for processing,” Lilburn police Chief Bruce Hedley told NBC Latino. “To preserve the integrity of the case, I will not be releasing further information concerning this incident.”
Sailors’ lawyer says his client is a Vietnam veteran with no prior criminal history and thought he and his wife were about to be victims of a home invasion. “You have to understand this is a 69-year-old man who is a military veteran who has been honorably discharged,” Michael Puglise says. “He dedicated his life to community service, specifically the Christian Lay Ministry in Latin America.”