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Suspect known in Newington shooting death
GBI, DA's office reviewing the case
GBI web

While an arrest has not been made, authorities know the identity of a man suspected in the May 8 shooting death of a Newington man at his home.

John Michael Zelt, 26, died after being shot at a residence off Newington Road, said Catherine Sapp, special agent-in-charge of the Statesboro office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"We know who did the shooting," she said, but she did not reveal the suspect's name, as he has not yet been arrested and the case remains under investigation. The case is under review by the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office, she said.

Screven County Sheriff's Office spokesman Brett Dickerson said Monday the case has been turned over to the GBI and that he could not comment. Statesboro GBI special agent Ashley Brown is leading the investigation, Sapp said.

The victim's sister, Ashley Zelt, told the Statesboro Herald Monday that her brother was shot in the back of the head by a relative by marriage during a dispute in which the suspect claims to have felt threatened.

"It's been very emotional for my sister and myself," she said. "All we have had is each other. He was such a great man, an awesome father without a doubt. He wouldn't harm anyone."

John Michael Zelt was married to Brandi Hutcheson Zelt and was father to a daughter and two sons, his obituary stated.

"He lived for his sisters and his family," Ashley Zelt said. "Everyone loved him that knew him. He brightened people's days when gloomy. He was a hard worker. He had such a big heart. What he could do for you, he would."

Sapp said the investigation continues that and upon review by the district attorney's office, an arrest may be pending.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.