Report: Shooting Suspect Believed Someone Was Trying to Enter Home

Phillip Sailors, of Lilburn, is currently being held without bond in the shooting death of 22-year-old Duluth man.

Credit: Joy L. Woodson, Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch editor
Credit: Joy L. Woodson, Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch editor
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published January 30, 2013)

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


Lilburn police detectives continue to investigate a Saturday shooting on Hillcrest Road that resulted in the city's first homicide since 2005.

In the incident, 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz, of Duluth, was shot in the driveway of 537 Hillcrest Road in Lilburn. Diaz was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. 

He had been shot in the left side of his head with a .22-caliber revolver, according to police. He was pronounced dead at 6:10 a.m. on Jan. 27, while in the intensive care unit.

Homeowner Phillip Sailors, 69, was then arrested Sunday and charged in Diaz's death. He reportedly believed that someone was trying to enter his home unannounced.

According to a report released to Patch Tuesday, Diaz was driving with three friends when he arrived to Sailors' home on Saturday evening.

According to the victim's brother, David E. Diaz Valencia, the friends were trying to find the home of a friend of Diaz's girlfriend when they pulled into the wrong driveway by mistake.

In the police report, the friends said they were planning to go skating later that night.

'Trouble Unknown'

Earlier in the evening, about 8 p.m., the girlfriend's father said he spoke with his daughter, who stated that she was on her way home. He did not know that the friends were headed out elsewhere, according to the report.

After friends pulled into Sailors' driveway, police were dispatched to the scene for "trouble unknown" just after 10 p.m.

While en route, a complainant told emergency dispatchers that a car was in her yard, that people were shouting, and that two gunshots were heard.

Another witness told police that a male subject was overheard yelling "why was someone trying to get inside their house."

According to Valencia, the GPS directed the friends to the wrong house. And, then Sailors started shooting; as Diaz accelerated out of the driveway, he was shot in the head, Valencia said.

"My brother had rolled down the window to apologize,” Valencia said, or the bullet might not have done so much damage.

When police arrived, they observed a woman screaming next to the stopped red Mitsubishi 3000GT, pointed east and driven by Diaz, at the end of the home's driveway.

The driver was slumped over in the driver's seat, with blood covering his face. His breathing was labored, and he was unresponsive.

A female witness, who was later identified as the victim's girlfriend, was "screaming frantically (that) her boyfriend had been shot." Two other friends were standing behind the vehicle.

Sailors then "made a spontaneous utterance that he shot the driver," the police report states.

Diaz's Family Life

According to Valencia, Diaz was one of four brothers and two sisters. Most are living in the Duluth or metro Atlanta area.

He lived with his father, Rodrigo Abad Diaz Diaz; stepmother, Blanca P. Villegas Torres; brother David and younger sister in a home on Pittard Road in Duluth.

The family is originally from Colombia. The father has lived in Duluth for 10 years. Several other family members came to Duluth about seven years ago.

Diaz was studying auto mechanics at Gwinnett Tech, after changing majors from computer programming, according to his brother.

Valencia, whom Patch spoke to Tuesday, said funeral arrangements have not been made yet.

Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said the incident "was an unfortunate and tragic event" for all involved. 

Snellville attorney Mike Puglise, who is representing Sailors, could not be reached for comment.

The last time a person was killed in the city of Lilburn was in 2005 on Inland Way. In that case, a Eunice Castillo, 38, chased down and shot her boyfriend, 43-year-old Keith Newell Boyd. She then turned the gun on herself in apparent murder-suicide.

Patch will follow up on this story as more information becomes available.

--- Duluth Patch Editor Faye Edmundson contributed to this article.

See also:

UPDATE: Lilburn Man Arrested, Charged with Murder

linda January 30, 2013 at 06:05 AM
What a racist grumpy cold blooded old men it doesn't matter if he is a veteran that doesn't make right what he did. The poor guy was just going to apologize to that men if you can call him that. I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail and pay for what he did because clearly the guy had a great future ahead of him.
Patty Robbins January 30, 2013 at 06:18 AM
we act out of love or fear; and Mr Sailors acted out of fear. even with all his training and expertise he shot once and then twice. this incident is a perfect example of what the gun control debate is all about...and that debate is our 'right to kill' one another.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 11:14 AM
That's what he says he thought was happing.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM
You don't know the facts. You only got one side of it. There a lot that doesn't add up here. Lets hope the jury, listens to both sides before rushing to judgement like yourself..
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM
How so? You got one side of the story. What if it come out that these guys had broke into a couple of homes before? What if auto forensics shows the car did lunge at Mr. Sailors? What if the facts show Mr. sailors acted in self defense?
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Where you there? Do you know Mr. Sailors to be a racist? Heck, can you even define racist? I know in your world old white man = racist, but the rest of in the intelligent world will wait for science to verify one side of the story or the other and let a jury decided his fate.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Typical bleeding heart, before the facts are even known, you use it as a political football, when there just as many examples of people using guns for self defense against a real threat. Would you have wanted that mother in Loganville, that hid in a closet with her twin, while a criminal ram sacked the house, then came looking for them finding them cow adding in a closest to not have a gun to defend herself. In case you didn't hear she shot him 5 fives but unfortunately I think he still kicking in the hospital. Point is for every "death cause by legal gun ownership I can show you 20 lives saved... Your move
ada January 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Sad story . . . but we must hear both sides of the story before any type of judgement is made. At 8pm, they were supposedly on their way home. What if he was rolling down the window to yell an obscenity . . . he said/she said.
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 04:56 PM
spelling is fundamental !
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 05:00 PM
a check just now of 3 skating rinks within a 20 mile radius of the shooting shows their hours on saturday nite were 2 midnight and one 1am... Julie get your facts straight. Its natural to come to the defense of a friend and the picture was taken in the daylight. Ask Mrs. Sailor why she didnt call 911? If the Sailor family has nothing to hide why id the attornoy "spinning" it in the media?
John Henderson January 30, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Mr. Womack do you know Mr. Sailor. Go back and research his comments during the mosque issues several years ago!
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 05:56 PM
What would his ideas on religion have to do with him be a racist? Again, I ask can you even define what the word racist means? Until you are able to do that it's hard for anyone to take the claim seriously. How would him being a racist have anything to do with him shooting this guy? You can be a racist and non-violent. Even if he was a racist and killed the guy in cold blood, should the fact of him being a racist really matter? Should the be punishment for cold blooded murder be less if he wasn't a racist? You keep using that word "racist" and it doesn't mean what you think it means.
jby January 30, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Kind, gentle, father, grandfather, volunteer, etc. Mr. Sailors may have been all of those things. Now he is a murderer. The paranoia of gun owners coupled with the right wing media does nothing but incite fear among themselves. You are not a hero, your chances of being "the good guy with a gun" is highly over stated. More than likely you will be the sad, old man who has killed someone due to your own stupidity.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 07:35 PM
No sir, your facts are wrong. Chances are a legal gun owner will never have to do anything other than traget pratice with their gun. Point is for every "death cause by legal gun ownership I can show you 20 lives saved... For a recent local exapmle lets look at that mother in Loganville, that hid in a closet with her twins, while a criminal ram sacked the house, then came looking for them finding them cowaring in a closest. She shot him 5 five, three lives save. We still do not know the facts in this case, he says the car lunged at him, that would be self-defense and if that is the case another life saved.... Your move
1Freedom January 30, 2013 at 07:50 PM
You must be an Idiot if you shoot the driver of a car that is coming straight to you, you may of potentially kill the driver but you will not stop the car from moving forward...Go back to school and learn Physics..."Inertia" ...If the car is coming toward you, you have the upper hand if you stayed at an elevated place, from the pictures it shows the front door is a flight of stairs onto a patio....Common Sense don't you think?
jby January 30, 2013 at 08:55 PM
If you are indeed speaking with facts, let's see some stats of the number of lives saved by gun owners. You can't because they are few and far between. Far more gun owners are responsible for accidental shootings and deaths than "saving lives" Cars don't "lunge" they either go forward or reverse. Check. Mate.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Pretty easy to step out of the way, but I'd be darned if I'm going to give that driver trying to kill me a second chance to come back around or come up with another plan to kill me. Common sense don't cha think! Ask three non-uniform cops in Toccoa that tried to stop a preacher at a quiki-mart, just to ask him a question, preacher though he was being robbed hit the gas, cop said the car lunged at him so they shot him three times and killed him. Not to mention countless other cop dash video I've seen. Apperars to be SOP for the cops and they went to school for this stuff.
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Well gee let's see.. According to Dr. Gary Kleck, criminologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee and author of "Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America," a book used by many in the gun debate, 800,000-2,500,000 crimes are stopped by guns each year. The numbers are from different studies. Interesting Statistics: There were over 19,000 deaths by accidental drug overdose in 2004. The majority of these deaths were from prescription drugs, not illegal drugs. Banning prescription drugs makes as much sense as banning guns. Regarding accidental shooting deaths per year, that number is in the 14,000-17,000 range. Over 300,000,000 guns are owned in America. I showed you mine, now show me your's.....
David Womack January 30, 2013 at 09:49 PM
@jry- you're working off raw emotion not fact... cars lunge (think when you learned to drive a stick) and move in all directions, not just forward and backwards, think quad-steer and when someone looses control..
1Freedom January 30, 2013 at 10:34 PM
What would of happen if the man killed had a gun as well, does your 2nd amendment guarantee your right to protect yourself from a person trying to kill you? Like I said 3 key eye witnesses vs. 1...only way this man could get away with involuntary manslaughter is if the jury is Georgia's Finest men in white aka Kyu Klutz Klan.
jby January 31, 2013 at 12:16 AM
David Womack you seriously believe the tired, old, most importantly, debunked "study" of Klecks? Thoroughly debunked years ago, the gun lobby’s favorite research – a 1995 study by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz that reported an astounding 2.5 million defense gun uses (DGU) each year in the United States. Yep, you read it right; 2.5 million DGUs PER YEAR! The Kleck study claims that 2.5 million times per year, someone uses a gun to defend themselves. That’s more defensive gun uses than happened in WWII in Europe in 1944. The Kleck study is so flawed the only thing it measures is the wild imagination of gun owners. Do you still believe? check.
jby January 31, 2013 at 12:27 AM
lunge 1 |lənj| noun a sudden forward thrust of the body, typically with an arm outstretched to attack someone or seize something: verb make a lunge: A car is not going to lunge. just saying.
linda January 31, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Mr. Womack and exactly to you which is my world? Everyone is titled to their opinion and to me hes just one cold blooded murder. Justice will be made and if it doesnt happen here everything will be ok because god will take care of it 100% but if he does goes to jail well GOOD one less crazy murder in the streets !
David Womack January 31, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Wow, I offer numbers to back up my claim, you just say it was debunked but offer nothing in the way of numbers. The Kleck study said that DGU were between 800K-2.5 mil, where are your numbers to counter? I lol'd at you claim that there were less DGU in WWII, .Between 50-78 million people died in WWII. 22-25 million were military, I can promise you that the 8,7 million Russian soldiers that died, tried to use their gun. There where at least 5 million Jewish men and women that would have fought back had their guns not been confiscated by Hitler a few year priors. America also got to fight that war overseas, because both Germany and Japan knew an invasion of the US was pointless. "A gun in every second home, behind every tree" No I don't believe this anti-gun non-sense because the numbers DO NOT JUSTIFY IT! At 32,000 gun related deaths, more people died from the FLU! : Breakdown of those 32K gun deaths both criminal and accidental about 9,000 are gun murders, 600 are accidental gun deaths, but surprise the bulk of those "gun deaths" are suicides and I'm sure your all about the right to choose! I'm not saying your not entitled to your point, it's just a pointless matter. There is nothing you can do about guns in the US, or drugs, illegals, prostitution, alcohol, abortion. These thing are either a part of human nature or American culture, get over it! Want to make something popular? Make it illegal!
David Womack January 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Lunge 2 verb : to thrust or propel
David Womack January 31, 2013 at 11:22 AM
A world in which people are judged on the color of their skin because of a racial chip on your shoulder. It's far more likely that after 69 year Mr. Sailors has made a mistake, over reacted and now will owe a debt to society and a family. Then your point of him being a "racist grumpy cold blooded old man" and your right, God will be the final judge. Let’s seek truth and justice, not hearsay and vengeance.
the truth January 31, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Why must everyone rush to judgment? There are more facts to this story. You are the same type people who used to form a lynch mob and grab the first "guilty looking person and get your justice"
Joseph B February 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I think an obscenity might be appropriate if you pull into someone's driveway and then they run out to your car and fire a gun into the air just because you are there.
Joseph B February 09, 2013 at 01:08 PM
I am posting this comment again because it is so often misunderstood AND results in tragedy. Most states including Georgia, do NOT allow the use of deadly force if someone 'feels' threatened. GENERALLY, you may use JUST ENOUGH force to repel an attack, or JUST ENOUGH force to protect your property. Georgia law, like most other states, DOES allow one to use deadly force for self-defense if one is threatened by deadly force (or grievous bodily harm, or forcible commission of a felony). HOWEVER, you first have a duty to retreat IF possible. Now, this duty to retreat is where the 'castle doctrine' law comes into play. If you are INSIDE your property AND you are threatened with deadly force, grievous bodily harm, forcible commission of a felony, or if the perp FORCIBLY breaks into your home, you no longer have a duty to retreat and can immediately use deadly force for self defense. It is a tragedy that people with superficial and uneducated ideas about law and legal principles believe the castle doctrine means you may use deadly force if you only 'feel threatened' anywhere on your property. So please I beg anyone with a firearm to realize 1. you must be presented with deadly force (or forcible felony, etc.) and 2. you have a duty to retreat IF POSSIBLE *UNLESS* you are IN your property (if castle doctrine state) OTHERWISE IT IS MURDER/MANSLAUGHTER!!! THERE MAY BE OTHER LEGAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER Source: Hundreds of hours of self-defense and defensive firearms courses and seminars.
Joseph B February 09, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I want to emphasize also that my statement is a generalization erring on the safe side of state laws that vary quite drastically from states like District of Columbia where there is no specific castle doctrine or stand your ground laws to Texas where a man slew a burglar he saw fleeing from his neighbor's house and the homicide was ruled justifiable. States like Georgia and Pennsylvania are in the middle where there is no specific duty to retreat from anywhere you have a legal right to be when attacked with deadly force. Remember though, that if you had a way out that was safe and still killed someone, not only does it weaken the self-defense argument, but there may be civil liabilities also. In addition, situations where defending another person can be similarly complex; such as if you defend someone who has no legal right to be somewhere, or is committing some other crime like drug possession that may not be apparent, but is then discovered by police. Trespassing is the most often part not understood. You can never justify homicide for trespassing anywhere in the US, there must be at least felony property crime in play in states like Texas; but most states require immediate danger to life or some other violent crime such as rape, etc. One final note, read and consult MULTIPLE sources. DO NOT take the opinions of any police or peace officers, they are specifically prohibited from providing legal advice. And please, please, PLEASE don't take your drinking buddy Bubba's word.


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