Editor's note: This story was reported by Jim Mustian, Tim Chitwood, Alan Riquelmy and Mike Owen and is based on police reports, court documents and interviews with family, friends and law enforcement.
On Monday, William Bullard and Richard Dodelin were alive.
But on Tuesday, the day that roads were blocked and schools were locked down and a helicopter buzzed the treetops, William was dead before the sun came up and Richard was gone before it went down.
This is the story of two men and how their lives suddenly ended.
Similarities and differences
Richard F. Dodelin was a Columbus trial attorney in his early 40s. His father is a prominent lawyer who specializes in trying DUI cases. His grandfather was a well-known orthopedic surgeon.
William Bullard was also from Columbus, and in his early 40s. His father died about 10 years ago. His grandfather ran a grocery story on St. Marys Road.
People called Richard “Richie.” People called William “William.”
What did William do? Well, he had a master’s in education and he was a registered plumber. He used to be a substitute special ed teacher, worked at a swap shop and lately he’d been working for his uncle’s construction company. Sometimes he played guitar.
“He was the type that didn’t like to be stuck in one place,” his mother would say.
He laughed a lot and he was a big, strong guy who kept in shape.
Richie was a Type I diabetic who hadn’t quit drinking. He liked to hunt. He’d had some financial difficulties, and in August was ordered to pay back about $50,000 he owed the bank, plus interest and attorney’s fees. He’d also been sued after being accused of not paying credit card debt and not making lease payments on a vehicle.
Richie was renting a ranch house off Hubbard Road near the Harris County line. But it backed up to hundreds of acres of land, and the land was good for hunting.
William had his problems, too. A bank was garnishing his wages. His mother was moving back to Manchester, Ga., and he was getting her house ready to sell, and the neighbors thought he was a homeless man the woman was giving work because she felt sorry for him.
Richie wore a coat and tie to work. He was a Democrat who once made a $2,000 donation to presidential candidate John Edwards.
William was a Democrat, too, he said, because he liked underdogs. He had a tattoo. It was the name of his 14-year-old daughter.
Fight at 84 Lumber
William and his daughter’s mother, Rebekah, had been divorced for about 10 years. He was a minimalist, a family member said, while Rebekah was a materialist. Their marriage was doomed, some said, but they got along after Rebekah remarried.
William said he loved his daughter more than anything in the world. After all, he had her name tattooed on his arm. He would pick her up from school and take her to Olive Garden.
Rebekah had started seeing a new man.
Richie’s wife was from Gainesville, Ga., and awhile back she’d left him and gone home.
Over Christmas, according to a family member, Richie was drinking and he cursed Rebekah.
He also cursed William’s daughter.
It got back to William.
William was angry, and he got angrier when he heard Rebekah saying that she and their daughter were going to move in with Richie.
William confronted Richie.
On Monday night, Richie called William. They had words. They decided to do something about it.
They decided to meet at 84 Lumber.
William was big and strong and knew he would have no problem taking Richie in a fight.
Richie brought a pistol.
Call to 911
Before midnight, 911 dispatchers received a call. It was from a woman who did not give her name. She said her husband was dead.
When police arrived at 84 Lumber, they saw William lying on the pavement. He’d been shot once in the head, and it looked like he’d been shot in the back too.
Medics tried to revive William. He was dead.
In the woods
Early Tuesday morning, police went to the ranch house off Hubbard Road to arrest Richie on a charge of murder. They set up a perimeter.
Richie ran from the rear of the house, opened fire with what appeared to be a shotgun, broke the perimeter and ran into the wood line.
He was wearing an orange hunting vest.
He was alone. With a shotgun.
Just like he was hunting.
Meanwhile, principals were locking the doors of 11 schools and covering the windows so the man in the orange vest couldn’t see inside.
Law enforcement officials were climbing aboard the mobile incident command center. The SWAT team was being alerted. Dogs were being fed. A helicopter was being fueled.
Richie was walking through the woods.
Online, people were chatting.
A student from Northside High went online to say he was on lockdown. A student from Columbus High said she wished she was on lockdown.
Then it got ridiculous. The web jockeys said Richie was opening fire in a grocery store. They said he was wreaking havoc on a college campus, at the welcome center, in a hospital.
Meanwhile daycare centers, nursing homes and even businesses were locking their doors.
Richie was in the woods.
He kept walking. For hours, he kept moving.
He could not go forever. He was a Type I diabetic.
Dogs barked. The helicopter blades chopped at the sky.
Richie kept walking.
Afternoon. Sun drooping in the sky.
Police on all sides.
Maybe then he wondered what everybody else in town was wondering, how things can get this out of hand.
TIMELINE ON MANHUNT
11-11:15 p.m.: William Hugh Bullard II is shot at 84 Lumber Co. on Fortson Road. Police receive a 911 call informing them of the shooting.
12:05 a.m.: Bullard is pronounced dead.
Before 7 a.m.: Columbus Police go to 1403 Hubbard Road to arrest Richard F. “Richie” Dodelin for Bullard’s death. Dodelin runs out of the back of the house, firing at officers. No one is injured and Dodelin escapes into the woods.
7:15 a.m.: A full-scale manhunt ensues, involving Columbus police, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
8:15 a.m.: Muscogee County schools in the area are put on lockdown. Before the end of the day, 11 schools in north Columbus and southern Harris County are locked down.
9:23 a.m.: A police mobile command center is brought to the site.
2 p.m.: Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren holds a news conference to say the manhunt continues, and he believes Dodelin still is in the nearly 3-square-mile area being searched.
3:30 p.m.: Officers discover Dodelin and exchange gunfire with him. He retreats into the woods.
3:53 p.m.: Dodelin is pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
5 p.m.: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it will investigate.
5:30 p.m.: Boren and Muscogee Sheriff John Darr hold a news conference to lay out details.