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Man carrying car battery shot in head

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A man was shot in the head with a .45 caliber handgun, but, two days later, detectives are still trying to figure out what happened.

Clayton County police have determined a 46-year-old Conley man, Bruce James, drove his 1997 Ford Pickup to 1865 Rockcut Place, in Conley, and took a car battery off the property.

At about 2:20 p.m., Monday, James carried a car battery back to his truck, and a 29-year-old resident of the home, Epifano Merancio, allegedly came out and started shooting.

"We really don't know what happened," said Capt. Greg Dickens, a police spokesman. "We may know soon, but right now, we just don't know much."

Detectives reportedly know thatJames took the battery, and they believe they know Merancio shot him. However, it was unclear Wednesday morning if James was stealing the battery, or if he had received permission. It also is unclear why, if he received permission, Merancio allegedly started shooting.

James was struck by a bullet in the right side of his head.

Neighbors called 911 after seeing James attempt to drive away from the scene and crash into another car. Police found him in the cab of his truck, bleeding but alert and conscious.

When police arrived, a passenger in James' truck said the 46-year-old had stopped to ask for directions. According to James, who was able to speak to police before being rushed to the hospital, he had gotten permission to take the battery, Dickens said.

Merancio did not speak to police.

The 46-year-old was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital and was listed in stable, but critical condition Wednesday. The head wound was not believed to be life-threatening, Dickens said.

Merancio was arrested on charges of aggravated assault. Even if he was being robbed, Dickens said, there was no threat and he is not legally allowed to defend himself against theft with a gun.

James could be facing a theft charge, but detectives have not yet sought a warrant.