COBB COUNTY, Ga. – An Acworth man faces 43 charges in two counties after a bizarre crime wave in which police say he shot a married couple who lived next door and stabbed a Sandy Springs police officer.
Matthew Lanz, 22, was arrested on multiple charges in Fulton County and charged with murder in Cobb County.
Police say Lanz shot and killed Cherokee County firefighter Justin Hicks and his wife Amber at their home in Acworth, before breaking into a house in Sandy Springs a few days later. When police responded, Lanz stabbed the officer and was then shot by another officer.
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Lanz was taken to prison and the officer has since been released from the hospital.
Channel 2 Action News learned over the weekend that the Lanz family was right next door and shared a backyard fence with the house on Verbena Drive where the Hicks family lived.
When we got the case together, it became clear that Matthew Lanz’s troubles with the house on Verbena Drive started long before the murders—and long before the Hicks even lived there.
Lanz’s older brother, Austin Lanz, was arrested earlier this year for harassing the home’s previous occupants.
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Here’s a timeline of what led up to the shooting:
July 19, 2020 – April 18, 2021: Austin Lanz, 27, has been caught three times on surveillance cameras, leaving pornographic photos and notes in the letterbox at home. One time Lanz left a large sign taped to the front door of the house that read, “I’m done wondering really. Wut is the point of that.”
Phillip Brent and his then-fiance Amber Wells lived in the house at the time. Brent’s grandfather owned the house.
Brent told the Washington Post that he and Wells didn’t know Lanz and didn’t understand his fixation on them.
April 24, 2021: Lanz is spotted around 4 a.m. on surveillance cameras that open the door of the house on Verbena Drive with a crowbar. He turns on the light and stays in the house for 13 minutes, taking nothing, according to arrest records.
Lanz is arrested on suspicion of trespassing and burglary. While in prison, he assaults two police officers, leading to additional charges of aggravated assault on a cop.
May 2021: A judge reduces Austin Lanz’s bail to $30,000 and releases him on the condition that he does not ingest illegal drugs and undergo a psychological evaluation.
Aug 2021: Austin Lanz goes to Virginia to work and undergo a mental health assessment, the Wall Street Journal reports.
August 4, 2021: Austin Lanz stabs a Pentagon police officer to death at the Pentagon Transit Center in Washington, DC. Lanz was then shot dead.
The officer is identified as George Gonzalez.
Lanz’s parents issued a statement through their lawyer stating that their son had psychological problems.
August 31, 2021: The house has been sold.
September 2021: Justin and Amber Hicks move into the house with their 2-year-old son.
Nov 4, 2021: The Pentagon Force Protection Agency is hosting a memorial service for assassinated officer George Gonzalez in DC
November 18, 2021: Justin and Amber Hicks are found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in the house.
Nov 19, 2021: Matthew Lanz is arrested after police say he broke into a house in Sandy Springs and then stabs a cop multiple times. Lanz is shot and wounded and then taken to the Fulton County Jail.
Nov 20, 2021: The Cobb County Police Department announces they have received arrest warrants to arrest Matthew Lanz in the Hicks murders.
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