University of Georgia professor sought in 3 shooting deaths

ATHENS, Ga. — Authorities were on a nationwide hunt for a University of Georgia professor in the shooting deaths of three people, including his ex-wife, at a community theater near campus Saturday.

George Zinkhan, 57, a marketing professor at the university in Athens since the 1990s, was being sought in the shootings outside the Athens Community Theater during a midday gathering of Town & Gown Players, a local theater group, said Athens-Clarke County police Capt. Clarence Holeman.

Killed were Zinkhan's ex-wife, Marie Bruce, 47, a well-respected attorney in Athens who loved the theater; Tom Tanner, 40; and Ben Teague, 63, Holeman said. Both men were involved with the theater group in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta.

Zinkhan left his two young children in the car when he opened fire on the group, Holeman said.

A neighbor of Zinkhan's in nearby Bogart said the professor then dropped off the children with him next door and left, saying there was an emergency.

Police later took the children.

Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson said the three victims were shot multiple times. Two other people were injured by shrapnel.

Two guns were involved in the shooting, and neither was recovered at the scene, Holeman said.

Authorities issued a nationwide alert for Zinkhan and his 2005 red Jeep Liberty with Georgia license plate AIX1376.

Holeman said there was a discussion, possibly a disagreement, between the shooter and one of the victims, but a motive wasn't immediately known.

Neighbor Robert Covington said Zinkhan asked the Covingtons to watch his son and daughter for about an hour and then left. Covington described Zinkhan and Bruce as still living together in the house.

Covington said when he asked Zinkhan's daughter, who is about 10 years old, about the emergency, "all she would relate to me was there was something about a firecracker."

University of Georgia professor sought in 3 shooting deaths 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 10:50pm]

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