By Joe Johnson
Oconee County investigators have questioned several potential suspects in the March 19 shooting death of a convenience store clerk in Watkinsville.
According to Sheriff James Hale, tips began to pour in after his office last week announced a reward for help in identifying the killer had more than doubled, to $25,000.
"We've had people call and say they think they knew someone who had a connection to the shooting, but when those people came in for interviews we were able to clear them (as suspects) by being able to confirm where they said they said they were at the time of the incident," Hale said.
Additionally, he said, deputies have gone door-to-door in some neighborhoods distributing flyers about the murder of 23-year-old Elijah Wood of Watkinsville at the RaceTrac located at Hog Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 441.
The sheriff said he was optimistic that the killer will be arrested.
"We're in the third week of the investigation and we've rattled some cages," he said. "At some point someone generally talks to someone else about what they had done."
Ther sheriff's office previously released video of the killer entering and leaving the store.
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, 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.
“We have way more information than we are releasing,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the right break in the case."
The video shows the killer run to the entrance door where they hesitated before briefly returning to the checkout counter prior to running out of the store.
In the publicly-released video the killer is wearing black gloves that appear to have white on the palms. The suspect appears to be wearing a hood with black or dark blue and white drawstrings
Hale said he was optimistic the case can be solved.
He asked for anyone with information regarding this case to refrain from posting it on social media, but to call it in to the sheriff’s office at (706) 769-3945 or send the information to one of the following emails: