A man who fatally shot a wandering Alzheimer’s patient will not face criminal charges, said Georgia District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin, reports the Associated Press. Joe Hendrix, 35, fatally shot Ronald Westbrook, 72, on Nov. 27. The elderly man slipped from his home after midnight and wandered in the cold and dark for hours until randomly approaching the home of Hendrix’s fiancee on a rural cul-de-sac, repeatedly knocking on the door and ringing the bell. The fiancee called 911, while Hendrix grabbed his .40-caliber handgun, went outside and confronted the unknown man in the dark.
Hendrix said the man was carrying a cylindrical object, which turned out to be a flashlight. The man ignored shouts to stop and came at Hendrix, he told police. Hendrix fired three or four times, wounding Westbrook in the chest. Franklin said he could press charges only if investigators could prove that Hendrix was not acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger. “It’s a difficult burden to meet,” Franklin said. “You have to be able to prove what was in their mind at the time of the act. All the circumstances here could lead one to reasonably believe that Mr. Hendrix was acting in self-defense.”