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Oconee Sheriff: finding store clerk's killer 'our top priority'

Surveillance video image of RaceTrac killer

By Joe Johnson

Finding the person who last week murdered a clerk at a Watkinsville convenience store is “our highest priority,” Oconee County Sheriff James Hale said Tuesday morning.

He said that Investigators were “working tirelessly” with other local agencies, as well as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and an FBI Safe Streets task force to identify and arrest the person who fatally shot the clerk, 23-year-old Elijah Woods of Watkinsville.

The deadly shooting occurred between 1 and 2 a.m. Friday at the RaceTrac located on U.S. Highway 441 at Hog Mountain Road.

RaceTrac murder victim Elijah Woods

Hale would not say if anything was stolen by the killer, or speculate about possible motives.

“There already is too much case-sensitive information on social media,” he said.

Woods was not armed with a gun and there was nothing to indicate he was shot while trying to defend himself, the sheriff said.

When asked if the killer, whose body and face was mostly obscured with black clothing and a mask, might possibly be a female, Hale said, “All possibilities are being explored.”

The only publicly known evidence in the case is store surveillance camera footage that shows the suspect entering the store with a gun in their right hand, who went directly to the counter and shot Woods.

The video shows the killer run to the entrance door where they hesitated before briefly returning to the checkout counter. In the publicly-released video the killer is wearing black gloves that appear to have white on the palms. Video footage appears to show the suspect wearing a hooded garment that had black and white drawstrings

Hale said he was optimistic the case can be solved.

“We have way more information than we are releasing,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right break in the case.”

Another image of the RaceTrac killer

That break could come from a tip generated by a $10,000 reward being offered by RaceTrac and the FBI.

Additional contributions toward a reward are being made by citizens to the Sheriff’s Reward Fund that is being managed by Oconee State Bank.

"We appreciate all of the tips and insights from our citizens and concerned followers on Facebook," said a Monday afternoon post on the OCSO's Facebook page.

The post said: If you have information regarding this case we ask that you not post the information in the comments on Facebook. Please call it in to the Sheriff’s Office at (706) 769-3945 or send the information to one of the following emails:

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