Acworth, GA – Police have tied the murder of a Georgia firefighter and his wife to a suspect accused of stabbing a police officer and committing at least 40 other offenses in less than a week.
Police responded to the home of 31-year-old Cherokee County Firefighter Justin Hicks at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 18, WSB reported.
They found Justin Hicks and his 31-year-old wife, Amber, shot to death inside their Verbena Drive home.
The couple’s two-year-old son was found safe inside the house and was placed in the care of his grandparents, WSB reported.
The killer fled the scene after the attack and his identity was not immediately known.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. the following day, officers with the Sandy Springs Police Department (SSPD) received a call from a homeowner who said someone had broken into their Cameron Glen Drive residence and was still inside, the department said in a press release.
Officers were at the scene of another burglary on a nearby street when the in-progress burglary call came in.
They arrived at the Cameron Glen Drive residence minutes later and found the suspect still inside the home, according to the SPPD.
He was later identified as 22-year-old Matthew Lanz.
Officers tried to subdue Lanz by deploying a Taser, but it had no effect, police said.
“The suspect ran towards one of the officers and stabbed him multiple times,” according to the SPPD. “A back-up officer who witnessed the attack, shot the suspect in an attempt to stop the stabbing.”
The officer Lanz stabbed was dragged out of the house by a third officer, who immediately began rendering first aid.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was treated for multiple stab wounds, the SPPD said.
The officer survived the attack and is recovering at home, according to People.
Lanz, who was shot at least once during the confrontation, was transported to the hospital and is expected to survive, police said in the press release.
A second SSPD officer was treated for a wound to his hand due to having been hit by a bullet fragment.
The residents inside the home were not injured during the incident.
Investigators determined Lanz was also responsible for burglarizing the residence the officers had responded to prior to the in-progress call on Cameron Glen Drive.
They said the suspect had no connection to the homeowners or to the neighborhood.
But Lanz did live in a residence that shared a backyard fence with Justin and Amber Hicks, WSB reported.
The Cobb County Police Department (CCPD) secured warrants on Nov. 20, charging Lanz with the Hicks’ murders.
A motive has not been released and it is unknown if there was any relationship between the couple and Lanz.
The alleged killer is facing at least 41 counts in connection with the multijurisdictional crime spree, including two counts of murder, 10 counts of attempted murder on a police officer, 10 counts of felony obstruction, 10 counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, and multiple weapons and burglary charges, according to police.
Justin Hicks served the Cherokee County Fire Department (CCFD) for more than six years, CFFD Chief Tim Prather said in a press release.
“He has always been recognized as a happy, funny, loved by many kind of guy,” Chief Prather wrote. “He was always a highly motivated, energetic individual who deeply loved his job as a firefighter and consistently worked to do better and be better every day.”
He said the beloved firefighter touched many lives.
“Our hearts are broken as we mourn the loss of a member of our family and his lovely wife,” Chief Prather wrote. “Cherokee County Fire sends out our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Justin Hicks.”
Justin and Amber Hicks were laid to rest on Nov. 23, the CCFD said in a Facebook post.
A fundraising page established to help the couple’s little boy raised over $69,000 before it was closed.
Lanz reportedly lived with his brother, 27-year-old Austin Lanz, who stabbed Pentagon Force Protection Agency Police Officer George Gonzalez in the neck in an ambush attack on the Mero bus platform at the Pentagon Transit Center, killing him, WSB reported.
Austin Lanz then used the slain officer’s duty pistol to fatally shoot himself, according to the Associated Press.
Officer Gonzalez, 37, was a three-year veteran of the Pentagon police force, Politico reported.