A man in a custody battle over his two young children fatally shot their maternal grandparents and himself Sunday afternoon, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Ricky Carl Clark II, of Phenix City, was found dead by what officials believe was a self-inflicted gunshot, Sheriff Jay Jones said.
Bonnie Christine Partridge, 47, and Kenneth Wayne Partridge, 42, were shot soon after they arrived at Clark’s trailer on Lee Road 390 near Opelika, according to the investigation.
“The custody issue involved two young children, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old,” Jones said Monday, adding it’s been part of an ongoing court case in Lee County. The children were not at the trailer when the shooting occurred, he said.
Officials believe after Clark gunned down his children’s grandparents, he soon turned the gun on himself.
The Lee County Tactical Unit was on the scene nearly five hours Sunday before they found Clark underneath the trailer, near stacked concrete blocks that supported the modular home, Jones said. A pistol was recovered next to Clark’s body, he added.
The tactical unit includes members from the Auburn Police Department, Opelika Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office as well as SWAT medics.
“After some investigating it looks to be that he probably (shot himself) shortly after the shooting in the front yard,” Jones said. “We tried to make contact with him and we believe now after having had a chance to investigate the circumstances and particularly the issue with him under the house, we feel that he shot himself shortly after.”
Kenneth Partridge, or Kenny, as most people knew him played guitar and would run sound for a lot of venues, according to friend and fellow musician Brannon Tharpe.
“They were both very giving with their talents and time,” Tharpe said. “He always held pride in his work, his family and friends.”
Tharpe said he met the Partridges when they were doing a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Kenny set up the sound system early that morning and “rand sound all day for about five different bands,” Tharpe said.
Around midnight when they were done, Kenny was offered payment for his time.
“He in turn took it and donated it to the event,” Tharpe said. “This was a normal thing for him.”
In a strange turn of events, Kenneth Partridge was the man driving the truck Saturday that crashed into Deorio’s Pizza at Cross Country Plaza. He later posted from his wife’s account on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page that the accelerator on his truck was stuck. He said he had a “seizure only after the wreck happened not during.”