Wayne Sylvester pulled into European Auto Care Center on LaVista Road in Tucker on Oct. 6 to get his 2004 Jaguar fixed. He walked up to the front door, puzzled that no one seemed to be there and looked out at the highway.
When he was told the owner had been killed by an angry customer the day before, his jaw dropped.
“He was a nice guy too,” said Sylvester, 65, of Decatur. “I never had any problems with him.”
It was like that during the morning and afternoon on Oct. 6 as shop customers drove their luxury cars into the parking lot, hoping to get serviced, only to discover that George Tyrones, the owner of several high-end car repair and storage companies, had been brutally murdered.
Tom Jackson, 81, was one of them. He arrived just after Sylvester in a similar Jaguar.
“He was a great guy,” he said.
That seemed to be the consensus. But Tyrones was shot and killed at about 1 p.m. on Oct. 5. Several people close to the owner said it was the violent culmination of a dispute that started almost a week earlier over a bill.
Troy Johnson, 41, of Atlanta and Abel Johnson (no relation) were arrested and charged with Tyrones’ murder.
Police were called to the shop at 5007 LaVista Road at about 1 p.m. after a report of a dispute, DeKalb County Police Officer Jason Gagnon said. They received a second call en route alerting them that shots had been fired.
When they arrived, Tyrones was lying on the ground in the shop’s garage, dead. Witnesses told police they had seen the shooter fleeing toward Tucker High School. Police alerted school officials, and shortly after that someone called police and reported the suspicious activity of a man who matched the shooter’s description.
The caller described the suspect’s car, and it was pulled over on I-285 near East Ponce de Leon Avenue at about 5:30 p.m., Gagnon said. Troy Johnson was arrested immediately. Abel Johnson was arrested Oct. 6. Both were held in DeKalb County jail.
Police were not releasing more details as of press time.
Tyrones also owned Old World Motors, which sits several miles off LaVista nearby and services luxury cars built between the 1940s and 1970s and others. The office there was fielding phone calls all morning from concerned customers and vendors, said Beth Pizzati, an administrative assistant.
Tyrones’ wife, Andrea White Tyrones, also owned a third business: European Auto Vault LLC, a climate-controlled car storage facility at an undisclosed location in Tucker. The small company, which the Atlanta Business Chronicle profiled in 2006, is essentially a vault for wealthy car owners. Some of the Atlanta area’s top athletes, entertainers and business executives entrusted their cars to the Tyrones family, the paper reported.
In 2006, it was stocked with Ferraris, Maseratis, Bentleys, Mercedes, Jaguars and Bugattis, and customers were charged between $350 and $600 a month for storage.
Andrea White Tyrones could not be reached for comment.
“[George] was a good man,” Pizzati said. “He’s going to be greatly missed.”