Manhunt for professor continues, college town mourns 3 dead


An alert on the UGA Web site says professor George Zinkhan  is a suspect in an off-campus shooting.
Police searched without success Sunday for a University of Georgia professor who allegedly shot and killed his wife and two other people at a community theater group’s reunion Saturday, then fled.

Athens-Clarke County police said they have local, regional and national alerts out for George Zinkhan, 57, an endowed marketing professor at the school’s Terry College of Business. Police said Zinkhan has relatives in Texas and owns a home in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and a nationwide lookout was issued for the red 2005 Jeep Liberty Zinkhan was driving when he was last seen after the shootings Saturday. Police Capt. Clarence Holeman identified the dead as Marie Bruce, 47, Zinkhan’s wife and a prominent Athens attorney; Tom Tanner, 40; and Ben Teague, 63. The victims were all associated with the Town and Gown Players, a theater group that was holding a reunion picnic at the time of the shootings. “The three people we lost yesterday were a part of the rich 50-year history of this theater and, more than that, were vital members of the Town and Gown family,” the organization said Sunday on its Web site. The site described Bruce as “the binding force that held the Town and Gown community together. “Having worked with Town and Gown for over 20 years, at one time or another she served in every capacity at the theater, artistically and administratively, from leading lady to president of the board to chief cook and bottle washer.” Holeman said Saturday, “It appeared (Zinkhan) and his wife (Bruce) were having problems.” Meanwhile, the university said that classes would be held Monday, as the school term enters its final week.

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In a letter “to the members of the University of Georgia community” posted on the school’s Web site, University President Michael F. Adams said that operations would continue uninterrupted. But Adams said, “I urge everyone to continue to exercise caution until the suspect is apprehended.” Adams’ letter said counseling would be available to any member of the faculty or staff and to students. Although his letter identified Zinkhan by name as the man police were looking for and provided a detailed description of the professor and his vehicle, Adams made no reference to Zinkhan as a faculty member. Police said Zinkhan was not at the Town and Gown event originally but arrived and, according to Holeman of the Athens police, got into “a disagreement” with his wife. He left the scene — police believe to go to his car, where the couple’s children apparently were waiting — and returned with two handguns. The shootings “only took a few minutes,” Holeman said. Police found eight shell casings, he said. After the shooting, Zinkhan left the scene with his children, ages 8 and 10, still in the car, police said. He drove to a neighbor’s home in nearby Bogart, Georgia, where he lived, and left the children there. The neighbor, Bob Covington, told CNN that Zinkhan arrived at his home shortly after noon with the two children. “He rang the doorbell — asked me if I could keep his kids for about an hour,” Covington said. “I said sure, and he said there’d been some type of emergency, and he took off.” Zinkhan seemed hurried and agitated but that seemed consistent with an emergency, Covington said. He didn’t question Zinkhan about the emergency, Covington said, adding that it wasn’t unusual for someone in his family to watch the children.

An hour or so later, he said, police arrived and took the children. Police searched Zinkhan’s home on Saturday, but there was no indication of what evidence they might have gathered there.

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