A search was underway in the Atlanta area this weekend for a suspect in the shooting death of a well-known Georgia businessman and philanthropist who was killed Thursday night in an apparent carjacking attempt, authorities said.
Jack Hough, 73, was sitting in his car while his wife shopped in a pharmacy when the suspect approached him around 8 p.m., according to reports. After a brief struggle, Hough was shot in the chest.
“It’s senseless. I’m numb. I mean, my wife last night said she couldn’t cry anymore,” close friend Andy Piucci told reporters. “He was a great friend and just a wonderful person. It’s just horrible.”
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Hough, an Air Force veteran, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. He largely built his success as the founder of MSE Branded Food Systems.
“We did consolidated food courts, which was a totally different concept from what other people were doing,” Ed Jones, a vice president of the company, told the Gainesville Times. “He came up with ways to answer a need in the market that wasn’t being met.”
The company pioneered the consolidated food court model now seen in airports, universities, shopping centers and hotels.
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Hough was known to mentor young people who wanted to start business-related careers and was a board member of the Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocate program, which works to place abused and neglected children in safe homes.
“He was compassionate,” said Connie Stephens, the program’s former executive director. “I think not only was he successful as a business person in the community, but he really cared, and that’s what stuck out the most.”
Several people offered their thoughts of Hough on social media as news of his death spread.
Witnesses told police they saw a man wearing all black clothing, a hoodie and mask wandering around the parking lot outside the store, Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported.
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Gainesville – located about 55 miles northeast of Atlanta – has seen a spike in gun-related crimes in recent weeks. In January, several people were shot and one person was killed.
“We understand you’re alarmed and concerned for your safety in this city. We know that random acts of violence are not the norm for Gainesville, Gainesville police Chief Jay Parrish said in a video posted Friday addressing the uptick in violence.