published Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Suspected shooter freed in Gordon County slaying

  • photo
    Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston is seen in this file photo.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A man who investigators believe shot and killed a Murray County man in Fairmount, Ga., Saturday may have been acting in self-defense, Gordon County sheriff's officials said.

Brenton D. Cook, 43, was killed instantly when he was shot through the neck in front of a vacant building along U.S. 411, the Gordon County Coroner's Office reported Tuesday.

Jason Chastain, 36, still was at the scene with the handgun investigators believe he used to shoot Cook when authorities arrived, investigators said. He was taken into custody while sheriff's investigators and Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials interviewed a number of eyewitnesses.

On Monday afternoon, Chastain was taken before the Gordon County Magistrate Court where a "probable cause" hearing was conducted.

The GBI agent in charge of the investigation described the events surrounding the shooting and said the case "involved elements of self-defense," according to a statement from Sheriff Mitch Ralston.

The court found there was insufficient probable cause at that time to detain Chastain any longer, and he was released from custody Monday evening, the sheriff's office said.

"We will still rule it as a homicide because it's the taking of a life," said Gordon County Deputy Coroner Heath Derryberry. "It's not accidental."

This is the second homicide in Gordon County this year, according to Chief Deputy Robert Paris. The last homicide was Nov. 5 in Calhoun, about 18 miles east of Fairmount.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing by the GBI, the sheriff's office and the coroner's office. Cook's body is undergoing an autopsy at the state crime laboratory in Atlanta, the sheriff's office said.

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