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posted: 11/28/2013 8:00 PM

Georgia man shoots, kills wandering Alzheimer's patient

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Associated Press

CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. -- Authorities in northwest Georgia say a man shot and killed a 72-year-old who he thought might be an intruder but turned out to be a wandering Alzheimer's patient.

Walker County police told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that Ronald Westbrook had walked about 3 miles in the sub-freezing temperatures before knocking on Joe Hendrix's door just before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

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Hendrix's fiancee didn't answer, instead calling police. Sheriff Steve Wilson said before deputies arrived, Hendrix went into the backyard with his handgun, where he saw Westbrook in silhouette.

Wilson says the 34-year-old Hendrix recalled giving Westbrook several verbal commands, but the advanced Alzheimer's patient didn't respond. Hendrix then fired four shots.

Wilson says charges could be filed but says Hendrix didn't violate any laws by walking out into his own yard.

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