Community reacts to VSU student's death

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 14, 2017

Zachary Butler / Facebook

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- We're learning more about the Valdosta State student that was shot and killed Wednesday night. The 19 year-old was found at the Gates Apartments on Baytree Road in Valdosta.

Police responded to the apartment to find VSU student Zachary Butler dead. The apartments are located right next to the Valdosta State campus.

"It’s a shock, it's a huge shock. It's definitely scary," said local bar owner, Brian Gay.

Gay owns the bar across the street from the apartments where Butler was found. He said Butler came in often for a game of pool.

"His apartment is right here. That's his patio so we wave to him on a daily basis," Gay said.

Gay said the area is a safe one, and in his three years of working there, he’s never heard of anything like it.

"This is a very rare event for Valdosta, especially in this neighborhood and so close to the college," Gay said.

Valdosta police are actively investigating this incident, but they say it is believed to be drug related.

"Whether it was a college kid or a local person working, anytime you've got a death, its concerning to us," said Lt. Adam Bembry of the Valdosta Police Department.

Gay said he's keeping his eyes and ears open and staying alert from now on.

"We’re going to keep a good eye on our staff and keep our doors locked after hours."

There have been no arrests so far in the case.

Butler was from Tifton and graduated from Tift County High School in 2016.


By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 13, 2017

Valdosta, Ga. (WCTV) -- Valdosta Police have confirmed the death of a 19-year-old following a fatal shooting on Wednesday night at a private apartment.

According to police, VPD received a call at 7:42 p.m. regarding a possible deceased person at The Gates apartments in the 1400 block of Baytree Road.

The victim, Zachary Butler, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene.

VPD's Person's Crimes Detectives and Crime Scene Technicians with the Valdosta/Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory responded to continue the investigation.

The victim was transported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Medical Examiner’s office in Macon, where an autopsy was conducted on Thursday morning.

Detectives have been following up on leads and going through evidence collected at the scene.

Officers believe drugs may have played a role in the shooting, which is being investigated as a homicide.

The investigation is active. More details will be released as they become available.

VPD Lieutenant Adam Bembry is asking anyone with any information to contact police.