Woman tried to stop hit-and-run driver before deadly shooting, police say

A 21-year-old woman accused of shooting and killing a man Tuesday after she witnessed a hit-and-run crash has been arrested on a murder charge.

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Clayton County police said Hannah Payne followed a pickup truck she saw hit another vehicle near Clark Howell Highway and Ga. 85. The Fayetteville woman claimed the driver of the pickup, 62-year-old Kenneth Herring, tried to drive away from the accident.

Police said Payne tailed him about a mile to the intersection of Riverdale Road and Forest Parkway and positioned her Jeep in front of the pickup to prevent it from going any farther.

There was some kind of altercation. Payne, who is licensed to carry, had her gun with her when she left her Jeep and approached Herring, Maj. Anthony Thuman said during a news conference Wednesday.

"All we are at liberty to discuss at this point is during the struggle, the weapon was discharged," he said. The investigation is still fluid, but Thuman said there was enough evidence to warrant the murder charge against Payne.

A witness flagged down an officer directing traffic near the entrance to I-285 at Riverdale Road to report the man was shot about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. He later died at an area hospital.

The investigation temporarily blocked all lanes of the Perimeter’s outer loop during the Tuesday evening commute.

Thuman said there is no indication Payne knew either of the drivers involved in the initial wreck, and the damage to the other vehicle was not extensive.

“Unfortunately, when you see this many cases, once and a while you will see a unique one,” he said. “This is a unique case where a citizen chose to intervene."

At some point during the incident, Payne called 911, but the call hasn’t been released. While he has not listened to the call himself, Thuman said typically police “recommend that people stay in the car and let the officers responding handle the situation.”

Payne's attorney, Matt Tucker, told WSB-TV his client should be considered a good Samaritan, not a murder suspect. He said the gun was fired after a struggle.

“She had a ripped shirt, she had scratch marks on her,” Tucker told the news station. “It should be (finger) prints of his and hers on the gun.”

Payne is being held in the Clayton County Jail without bond.

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