A gay man in North Georgia was beaten and left to die as he walked alone on a street in Dalton just three days before Christmas.
Dalton police say it's likely that Paul Guerrant, 43, knew his attacker or attackers that beat him about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 along Dozier Street in Dalton. The city is just off Interstate 75 about 90 miles north of Atlanta.
Guerrant was transported to Hamilton Medical Center and later to a hospital in Chattanooga, where he was pronounced dead. He was beaten in the head and died of blunt force trauma, police said in a press release.
The severity of the attack indicates that Guerrant knew his killer, Dalton police spokesperson Bruce Frazier told Project Q Atlanta on Tuesday.
“When you see this kind of violence, typically the attacker and the victim know each other,” Frazier says. “That level of violence can occur in a random encounter but it is much more likely that it is somebody that knew the victim and that there was a personal motivation behind it. We don't know that for sure, but that is the assumption you would make from this level of attack.”
Frazier says detectives have ruled out any of Guerrant's known associates such as friends or ex-boyfriends as suspects in the homicide. But whether Guerrant's sexual orientation was a factor in his murder isn't clear, he says.
“Whether the victim being gay is motivation for the attack, we really don't know the answer to that. At this point, we have not identified a suspect or motive for the attack. It's possible but it's not something that we're ready to identify as the reason for the attack,” Frazier says.
Guerrant was talking on his cell phone to a friend about 9:28 p.m. as he walked from St. Mark's Episcopal Church to where he was staying on Dozier Street. Nine minutes later, at 9:37 p.m., police received a 911 call about a man lying in the middle of Dozier bleeding from his head. When officers arrived, they found Guerrant beaten and “clinging to life,” police said.
“The attack took place in a window of about nine minutes. It's a brutal attack. The autopsy results show he died of blunt force trauma with repeated blows to the head,” Frazier says.
Video from surveillance cameras captured portions of Guerrant's walk from the church to Frederick Street, but not the scene of the attack. Detectives canvassed the area and talked with nearby residents, but told the Daily Citizen that neighbors didn't see what took place.
“We're not sure if someone is afraid to come forward or hasn't spotted the fact that we're looking for information. We're looking for that one nugget to crack the case,” Frazier says.
On Tuesday, Dalton police announced a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and prosecution in the homicide. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Brian Shirley at 706-278-9085, dial 9, and then extension 189.