Young Latino Shot and Killed By Georgia Man After Accidentally Pulling Into His Driveway

Courtesy of Diaz family

Imagine pulling into the wrong driveway and the owner running out of the house screaming with a gun in his hand. That's what happened to Colombia-born Rodrigo Diaz, 22, except he didn't live to talk about it. Upon rolling down his window to apologize, the owner of the house shot him in the head.

Phillip Sailors, 69, was arrested when police arrived at the scene and saw the victim's girlfriend, Angie Rebolledo, had blood on her jeans, both arms and both hands after attempting to get a response from him. She screamed frantically that her boyfriend had been shot, police said.

“Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” said the victim's 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.”

Diaz, 22, was driving with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking it was another friend’s house. They were on their way to go ice skating, but instead Diaz pulled into the driveway of Sailors, a Vietnam veteran with no prior criminal history, who thought his home was being robbed, according to his lawyer. Sailors shot Diaz, who attended Gwinnett Tech and worked at his brother’s cargo shipping business. He later died while in the intensive care unit.

Police arrested Sailors, of Lilburn, Georgia, who will be 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 said his client 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 said. “He dedicated his life to community service, specifically the Christian Lay Ministry in Latin America.”

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