Two men indicted for Jonesboro hotel murder

Hotel manager remembers shooting

JONESBORO — A Clayton County Superior Court grand jury indicted two men for killing a man at a Jonesboro hotel.

Police say Ballard Chaz Jensen and Singlee Soun were captured on the Econo Lodge hotel surveillance camera on Feb. 23, 2011.

Jensen and Soun are accused of shooting James Gavin Johnson with a handgun and a rifle, at the hotel. Econo Lodge hotel is located at 340 Upper Riverdale Road in Jonesboro.

Both men were indicted Wednesday on 12 counts of violent crimes. Those crimes included two counts of malice murder, three counts of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault and four counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

The assistant manager of the Econo Lodge hotel, Amkit Jariwalla, said he has worked at the hotel for two years, and was there the night of the alleged murder.

“The guy who was shot, he and his girlfriend were from Mississippi or Kentucky,” said Jariwalla. “They had been staying here for about four days, before [the] incident and on the fourth day when this [happened] the shooter and two men checked into room 220. It is across the hall from the couple’s room, 207. The police said the person who checked into the shooter’s room was a homeless man. He used a driver’s license with a Morrow address to check in.”

The assistant manager said he routinely watched the hotel’s security monitors.

“We do that all the time, just in case we see someone doing wrong, then we kick them off the property,” said Jariwalla.

He said after the three men checked into their room, he saw them talking with the out of town couple across the hall.

“They were going in and out of each other’s room,” continued the assistant manager. “Then, the last time, the guy went into the local guy’s room they were in there for 30 minutes and then we started getting phone calls from guests upstairs complaining of hearing gunshots.”

Jariwalla said he called police and found out that some of the hotel guests had already called police.

“When the cops showed up, they found the body in the room,” he added. “The police told us it could been a drug deal gone bad.”

According to the arrest warrant, “The accused was seen on video running out of the room where the victim was found in a pool of blood immediately after gun shots were heard coming from the room,” continued the warrant. “The accused was carrying a handgun and was accompanied by another suspect who was carrying a rifle. A witness verified being with the accused at the hotel near the time of the shooting.”

Jariwalla said he played the hotel’s security video for the police and they saw “the shooter and two men leaving in a white pick-up truck.”

The police shut the hotel down for about five hours until criminal investigators completed their investigation, said the assistant manager.