Asha Hughes, in shorts, speaks with Gwinnett police after her neighbor was stabbed to death in the street in Lawrenceville on Thursday afternoon. (Staff Photo: Joshua Sharpe)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Hearing screams of terror and seeing a struggle in the street, Leon Hughes grabbed his gun and walked out of his Chris Lake Drive home to do what he could.
It was too late.
The woman Hughes saw being stabbed repeatedly by a man in the middle of the road in Lawrenceville was pronounced dead early Thursday afternoon. The killer, believed to be the woman’s 60-year-old ex-husband, got away as Hughes fired rounds at his car, Gwinnett police Cpl. Michele Pihera confirmed.
Hours later, the man was found dead in Norcross, Pihera said, though she had no further information.
The man had not been identified as of early Thursday night. The deceased woman had also not been named. Nor had her mother, who Pihera said was taken to the hospital in “bad” condition after being stabbed during the struggle.
The violence started about 2:15 p.m., reportedly after an in-home argument between the man and wife progressed into the road, which runs through the middle-class neighborhood across the street from Benefield Elementary School.
“What they were arguing about, at this point, we don’t know,” Pihera said near the scene Thursday afternoon, as more than a dozen police officers worked the scene and interviewed witnesses.
Hughes said he was in his garage when he heard screams from his neighbors’ home on the other side of Chris Lake Drive.
“I saw a man stab a woman, saw them fighting in the yard, saw them tumble out of the house, down the stairs into the yard,” the visibly-shaken surgical assistant said, standing a few hundred yards from the crime scene. “I just thought it was some neighbors arguing, and then I realized that the screams were of terror. That’s when I attempted to help.”
Hughes’ daughter, Asha Hughes, 19, said she ran barefoot out of the house after her father. She, too, saw the man, who she said was Asian and about 5-foot-7-inches, stabbing the woman.
He was silent and determined, she said.
“He wasn’t talking. He was just stabbing her. The man didn’t say anything at all,” Asha Hughes said, adding: “As soon as he saw the gun, he stabbed her one more time.”
The man then got in a newer model grey Lexus and sped away as Leon Hughes fired, the daughter said.
Seconds later, a young man, Tyler Phillinger, who was driving down the street, saw the suspect’s car speeding past him down Chris Lake Drive and out of the neighborhood off Old Norcross Road. Phillinger drove further down the road and saw Leon Hughes give CPR.
When police arrived at the home, they found two young children still inside, Pihera said.
“Their ages are very young,” she said. “They have since been released to a family member.”
Before the family member took the kids, Asha Hughes saw one of them — about two-years-old — inside the home, crying, looking out over the scene.