Quadruple homicide: Suspect may have been boyfriend

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett police said a Lawrenceville man was the lone shooter in the first quadruple homicide in the department's history.

The victims are a slain 11-year-old girl, Atania Butler, 28, Rico Zimmerman, 19 and Lakeisha Parker, 30.

Another girl, 4, was shot but survived. She's being treated at Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta. Neither girl was identified Friday. Both of the unnamed young girls were Butler's daughters.

Charged with murder in the killings is Richard Ringold, 44, who lived at the Lawrenceville home where the shootings occurred about 9 p.m. Thursday. Police said Ringold, who was unemployed, may have been dating Butler, who was killed on scene.

Victims Zimmerman and Parker's associations to the other victims and Ringold is under investigation, said Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman.

Why Ringold allegedly opened fire is unknown. Spellman said a third woman in the home escaped to a neighbor's house to call 911.

Police said Ringold was unarmed and surrendered without incident when he returned to the home shortly after midnight Friday in the 2002 Dodge Intrepid police were looking for.

Christy Trotter, a fellow resident of the Clairidge Crossing subdivision, said the home where Ringold lived had "a history of disputes." A check of call histories dating to Jan. 1 showed no recent 911 calls from the residence, police said.

"It's the worst possible thing in the world you can imagine," Trotter said. "This could've been my house."

Ringold appeared at an initial hearing early Friday. A probable cause hearing had not been scheduled as of Friday afternoon, according to court representatives. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond, charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

"Investigators believe there may have been some type of romantic relationship between the suspect and (Butler)," Spellman said. "There are some contradictions to that, so the type of relationship they had isn't clear at this point."

Court records show Ringold is married to Stefanie Ringold of Loganville, with whom he has two children, ages 6 and 17. He'd filed for divorce from her in May but that order was dismissed this month, records show. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

Spellman said the incident marks the first quadruple homicide in the annals of Gwinnett police files, and the first "mass killing" in Gwinnett in at least 20 years.