UPDATE: Lilburn Man Arrested, Charged with Murder

Lilburn Police Department have arrested and charged a local man in connection with a homicide.

(Editor's Note: This article was first published January 28, 2013.)

Update: Jan. 30, 5:50 a.m.: Attorney: Increased Crime Made Client Wary

Update: Jan. 29, 4 p.m.: Lilburn Police release initial report of the Saturday shooting that killed a Duluth man, Rodrigo Diaz.

Update: Jan. 29, 8:46 a.m.: Here is a statement from the Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley:

"This was an unfortunate and tragic event and our department is in the process of  investigating the incident. 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. To preserve the integrity of the case I will not be releasing further information concerning this incident."


A Lilburn man has been arrested and charged with murder, according to Gwinnett County jail records.

Phillip Walker Sailors, of 537 Hillcrest Road, NW, was booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center at 12:22 p.m. on Jan. 27 and charged with murder, according to jail records.

He is currently being held without bond.

Lilburn Police Department officials could not be immediately reached for more details on this case.

According to a report on Fox 5 Atlanta, Sailors is charged in the death of 23-year-old Rodrigo Diaz, who pulled into Sailors' driveway -- the wrong driveway -- when picking up a friend.

Witnesses said that Sailors came out of his home and started shooting without asking any questions. One of those shots struck and killed Diaz, the report said.

Patch will follow up on this story with more information.

fltxag January 29, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I don't think there is much to debate as to the facts of the case. Sadly, Mr. Sailors will likely spend his last years in a prison cell. Deservedly so.
joan craig January 29, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Leah... you are saying that this veteran was in his right mind and shot at a person that he probably could not see. You sound as if you were trying to defend his actions. You fail.
Sabrina Emings January 29, 2013 at 07:16 PM
"If someone pulled into my driveway like that I would probably brace myself for the worst too." Ms. Abigail, shooting people dead who pull into your driveway, even before they get out of the car, is not normal or justified behavior. That you think so suggests you need counseling. You say that he couldn't know what the people in the car looked like before shooting them because it was dark. Using that argument then it would be acceptable for him to shoot his grandchildren coming to make a surprise visit. It doesn't make any sense to argue that it's OK to shoot people just because it's too dark to even be able to tell who they are.
leah abigail January 29, 2013 at 07:32 PM
I never ceased to be amazed by the sophistry of those with dizzying intellectual observations. It was His Home, His Porch, & His property which he is permitted to protect. That Mr. Sailors' actions created catastrophic consequences is without question. Where is the harm in waiting for the facts to be revealed before resorting to name calling or character assassination? It is sad but interesting that there are so many so quick to judge when so little is known. My home is in the area & has been shot. We have experienced several incidents of vandalism & an attempted home invasion. We are prepared to protect ourselves if necessary. Some of my neighbors have not been so fortunate. To the various posters who seem confident of how Mr. Sailors should have conducted himself, may you never find yourself in a similar situation. Perhaps a sense of security can be gleaned in such pomposity. May you never find yourself the subject of such conjecture or censure and may cool heads & civil dialogue prevail. Determine to better our part of the world; make a difference, report suspicious activity, get to know your neighbors and look out for the elderly.
Gerald Allen January 29, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Why didn't you get the facts straight first? and the witnesses were his friends that were up to the same no good.
Gerald Allen January 29, 2013 at 07:51 PM
And it couldn't be a crime in progress because we all know that 20 yr olds riding around at night NEVER cause trouble. Colombians are never members of gangs and would never ever ever be involved in crimes. Yea right. That why so many are here illegally.
1Freedom January 29, 2013 at 08:05 PM
People like you should be Outlawed from holding any sort of object that could commit a crime including a butterknife. "....This man was protecting his property as his Constitutional rights allow him to do..." How Ignorant can a person be let alone call themselves an American, such travesty. Does your Constitutional Rights allow you to shoot a gun down a crowed sidewalk after getting your purse stolen? #1 according to GA State Law's "Stand Your Ground Law" and you have only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury as well as a Castle Doctrine law, which justifies the use of deadly force in defense of one’s home. The Vehicle in this case is leaving the Property...and you recklessly shoot at the vehicle and Kill a man....2 shots fired, 1 in the air and the other into a man's head...what if that stray bullet came from the Sky and landed in your home and injured your loved ones? would you still bear support for these mentally unstable people? Please answer it .
Green Moth January 29, 2013 at 08:09 PM
I am not doing any character assassination - but agree with a lot of other comments here, which question why someone would shoot at a car . . . in a situation where it was too dark to see who was in the car. My understanding, from the little information available, is that: * Mr. Sailors came OUT of his home (he was not threatened IN his home.) ** the people (including the dead driver) were IN the car, being held at gunpoint, when the police did arrive. [I'm wondering if Mr. Sailors make the call to poloce before stepping outside with his gun; or if someone else made the call after Mr. Sailors had already begun shooting] *** since there was no mention of home invasion in the initial report, it is, at this moment, reasonable to think that the people in the car did not enter the home. **** if Mr. Sailors was attempting to prevent home invaders from leaving the scene, why not just shoot out the tires or engine of the car? why shoot at whoever may be IN the car? If they had been in the home - why were't they shot/injured/stopped before they could get back into the car? **** at best, this case invloves a series of very bad judgements by Mr. Sailors - that led to murder.
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 04:10 AM
1) Mr. Sailor nor anyone in his house dialed 911 2) The vehicle was backing out of the driveway at the time he shot. 3) The deceased rolled down his window to apologize when he was shot. 4) The friends house they were looking for was right around the corner.
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 04:15 AM
Having been in the situation I still had time to dial 911, set the phone down, point the gun at the window as the a/c unit was bring pulled out snd scream at the intruder that I would fire. Shooting someone backing down a driveway over 100 yards from your house is not a danger to you or your house.
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 04:20 AM
Mr. Sailor showed no ethics, integrity,patience or prudence when he failed to take 2 seconds to dial 911 before walking out the door shooting like its 1917 and the sheriff is a 30 minute drive to his house.
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 04:22 AM
This comment from Mr.Nealy is typical of the a Lilburn attitude.
leah abigail January 30, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Sarcasm is never a substitute for substance. I will continue to recommend waiting for all the facts to be revealed before I conclude anything about this tragedy. It is laughable that witless individuals make assessments as to the mental capacity of someone they have no knowledge of. Why must words fly without your reason being engaged? Granted, we are emotional creatures but when decisions & comments are made based on emotion rather that truth, it is a knee-jerk reaction. There is no benefit to anyone & gives the impression of low cognitive reasoning skills. If we practiced more caution in maligning another's character & extrapolation of one's word to a sublime degree to further another's agenda wasn't standard fare, we might be able to relax...just a little. Responding to the assumption that I am defending Mr. Sailors, if my comments were read in their entirety it should have been clear but I'll rephrase so it will be easier to understand. I am defending his right to due process which is still the law of this land. Finally, I will wait for the facts to be revealed and in the meantime, will concentrate on commiserating the loss of young Diaz.
leah abigail January 30, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Is all your information factual? Regarding #1- The latest news indicates that 911 was called. As for the other 3 assertions, #2, #3, #4, there seems to be conflicting witness accounts and the initial information supporting these assertions by the occupants of the vehicle are not corroborated testimonies. Please provide your source(s).
George Wilson January 30, 2013 at 11:06 PM
1400 gun deaths since the Sandy Hook shooting and counting.
MyticUSA January 30, 2013 at 11:57 PM
He is threatened? When you are threatened, do you run to the guy who is threatening you? He claims to not seen the person, did he warn them of his gun verbally? Did you step back to see a response? Claiming it is too dark to see, how did he assume the car was going towards him? Lets see how many yes and no answer he will give! And not play with attorney's ball games of lies to avoid jail for his crime in this murder! Leah, I think one sentence that describes you: NAIVE or FAMILY MEMBER and not some friend!
MyticUSA January 31, 2013 at 12:21 AM
@Leah: Lets assume he dialed 911, what do you think would 911 advice him? Go outside with your gun shoot in the air to warn them and if you cant see them and dont know what they are doing just shoot them in the head? Using a bit of logic, you could see chain of very big mistakes in this murder (i call it murder because he went outside, charged towards the people, and shoot) He claims he didnt see who they were, what they were doing? Conveniently he was able to shoot the guy in the head, suddenly infrared vision? It may have been an accidental death on anxiety or being scared due to car engine being turned on along with the headlight and unintentional shooting. Very possible, but doesnt change the fact that he killed someone. People never have left their car to being with! The man was shot in his car! If you are scared and it is dark, you dont run towards danger esp when you cant see do you? A lot of mistakes or wrong doing is on Sailor's side on this ma'am, you are the one being very naive and emotional. There is no logic or principle explains Sailors' action plan in a moment of danger. Using his past and present and some love stories to dramatize the situation in his favor to justify his actions is called.... hmmm are you his attorney or public relations manager?
Green Moth January 31, 2013 at 02:07 AM
It would be easier to beleive that you are neutral in this, and simply "waiting to see all the facts" if you had not made it so clear that you are leaping to the defense of a person you apparently know well. It is NOT relevant to the facts of the event (nor his innocence or guilt) for you to state that he adores his wife, you know that his driveway is very dark, his wife was your child's kindergarten teacher, and that some of his neighbors were recently robbed.
linda January 31, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Mr.nealy you are so ignorant it doesn't matter if the victim was legal or illegal. What that cold blooded did to him was not right
Green Moth January 31, 2013 at 07:32 AM
This whole situation has stayed on my mind. I have come to the conclusion that this meets the classic definition of tragedy. A loving family man, of good character, having led what is viewed as an exemplary life, is brought to ruin by his own ill-considered actions. Nobody wins, some die. Many other lives are destroyed forever.
Tid911 February 02, 2013 at 07:11 PM
He is out of jail on a $10,000 bond. You need to read the definition of self defense in Ga. You only have to prove you were in fear of your life. It will be reduced to involuntary manslaughter. The kids have giving 5 different stories.Ice skating at 10pm!!! When they all close at 10pm.. They were out of the car and walking to his house. Mr. Saliors has led an exceptional life. Many houses had been broken into,cars were stolen,the man had to take a fence down because of all the gang graffiti. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Just saying!!
Tid911 February 02, 2013 at 07:19 PM
One last thing.. His wife was one the phone with 911 WHEN he went outside.... He also held everyone there until the cops came....
MyticUSA February 03, 2013 at 12:36 AM
He is not clean yet, just out on bail! "You only have to prove you were in fear of your life" Thats the lawyers' defence mechanism. I hope someone asks him these questions: "You saw danger, feared for your life, why did you towards danger? Were you trying to prove that you could overcome your fears having a gun and run towards it?" "It will be reduced to involuntary manslaughter." How do you know? Is it already arranged? did you talk to the judge and jury before hand? "They were out of the car and walking to his house. Mr. Saliors has led an exceptional life. Many houses had been broken into,cars were stolen,the man had to take a fence down because of all the gang graffiti" Again past present future with some shiny drama to make up an emotional jury story? Was it so hard to wait for police to come? They were outside the house and not inside!! He could have easily verbally stopped them and warn them! Instead, for fear of his life he went up to them? Normally people hide and call for help not run towards danger if you really think it is dangerous! Esp when it is dark and you claim to not seen who people were! Something tells me that Tid911 and Leah are the same person duty to knowing him and arranging same story lines... Nice try Leah, way to go...
John Henderson February 03, 2013 at 02:53 AM
Actually NO his female neighbor was the one on 911. I understand being a freind and coming to his defense but no need to "embelish facts" and second on saturday nite the two closest skating rinks to his address are open to midnight and 1am respectfully. Your chain of events is carefully crafted preview of his defense. Lets hope the truth actually comes out.
cristian February 03, 2013 at 03:21 AM
I knew the victim and it disgust me to see how people discriminate and judge people without knowing them. Rodrigo was a good, loving, easy to get along with person. He never hurt anyone and always tried to help people out. Rodrigo was a Hispanic male from colombia who had been living in the united states for 10 years and was studying to be a mechanic at gwinnett tech The murder! Sailor heard a noice outside (a car pulling into his driveway) and got his gun and went outside he shot once in the air. After that frist shot was fried rodrigo (the victim) tried backing out of the driveway while backing out the murder (sailor) shot at the car striking rodrigo (the victim) in the head and killing him. If sailor (the murderer) was so concerned for his safety why run outside to the path of danger wouldn't it had been safer inside the house. Why not call the cops frist wait inside?, Why come out shooting?, why not ask whos there?, why not after the frist shot go inside? No one approach him or even said anything to him! The murder (sailor) had no reason to feel in danger for his life. Don't know why he did what he did but he took the life of an innocent person just starting out his life. Rodrigo will be missed deeply by many people especially his family that won't ever be able to hear him laugh or talk, won't be able to see him smile or walk, won't be able to feel his hugs and love.
Nathan R February 03, 2013 at 06:06 AM
You say that you hate when people discriminate against people without knowing them, but you did to Mr. Sailors.
MyticUSA February 03, 2013 at 05:02 PM
@John: Couldnt agree more. I hope the truth comes quickly enough to sooth the pain of anyone involved and ones' family/friends... There is the one biggest question about "fear for life" in this case i think that sailor is gonna try to hide behind to reduce his sentence! But events unveiled doesnt support "fear for life" and "chain of events afterwards". They have to match and be logical, right? >> You fear for your life due to some strangers in your front yard >> You hide, and call for help (911, or friends, neighbor, security etc) What i think may have happened (my thoughts): Strangers appeared in the front yard >>> Agitated/angry man with some mental instability/paranoia, who happens to own a gun as well, takes matters in his hand, and do not hesitate to shoot on air and at the victims, when he hears car/engine run, and lights up, either unintentionally shoots out of fear, or intentionally shoots out of anger for whatever agitated him that happened, or was happening around the neighborhood. What should have happened under normal circumstances (my thoughts): Strangers pulled up in your front yard >>> Calm down.Call the police, while on phone, over your window, or door, verbally ask who/they are doing and warn the presence of your gun if they trespass >>> Strangers dont respond, but dont act to trespass either / They wanna trespass and invade your house >>> You wait inside your house and wait for the police. / Shoot if they try to go inside.
MyticUSA February 03, 2013 at 05:17 PM
@Nathan: Please explain the part where you read discrimination in his comment? All I read was angry comment and complaint about how someone can kill another person in an illogical way. True it is biased judgement early about his possible crime, but didnt read about any discrimination his comment? Only prejudgment/biased opinion, for the highly possible crime, out of anger and sadness as a soul just passed away at very young age. Did you read anything cristian said about killer's age, sex, gender, nationality etc? Discrimination definition(wiki): the prejudicial or distinguishing treatment of an individual based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or category, such as their age, ethnicity, gender/sex, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, skin color, or other characteristics
Ben February 07, 2013 at 03:58 PM
1400 Gun Deaths and still counting, why don't you look up the Killings, by Overdose of IIegal Drugs, by School Children, Drunk Drivers, Gang Related Killings
Joseph B February 09, 2013 at 01:18 PM
I am a concealed carry holder in multiple states and huge supporter of the second amendment but also rationality, compassion and basic respect for others. The alleged gunman in this case had no grounds whatsoever to fire a weapon at this unfortunate young man in self defence, nor a warning shot. A warning shot is the equivalent of 'brandishing a weapon', which proves he was not in immediate risk of bodily injury. If he was, he would have shot to kill from the very beginning as would have been appropriate. Young adults walking up a driveway (if they were) or approaching in a vehicle is not the presentation of lethal force that would give a man the right to defend himself with lehtal force. If property is in danger, you may defend that property, BUT NOT WITH LETHAL FORCE.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something