Sister: North Cobb graduate killed in Florida ‘never met a stranger’
by Sarah Westwood
June 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 7782 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Porter Headlee
Porter Headlee
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Lonnie Lee
Lonnie Lee
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MARIETTA — In the days since Porter Headlee’s death in St. Petersburg, Fla., the Headlee family says “hundreds and hundreds” of people have reached out to express their love for the deceased North Cobb High School graduate.

Friends and family say Porter will be remembered for his musical talent and bright smile. The Kennesaw native died Sunday when a neighbor shot him during an altercation over noise, according to St. Petersburg police.

“He found ways of connecting with everyone he met,” said Rachel Headlee, his oldest sister. “He never met a stranger.”

Porter Headlee, 25, graduated from North Cobb High in 2007 and went on to study music and business at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, earning his degree in 2012. He moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., in September 2013 to take a sales job.

Rachel Headlee, 29, described her younger brother as a genuine, talented musician with a bright future. In addition to songwriting, Rachel Headlee said Porter played classical guitar and piano.

“He brought people together with his music,” she said.

“My brother was just the most happy, fun-loving, all-around great guy.”

The youngest of three, Porter Headlee shared a tight bond with his father, Thomas, according to his sister.

“We are an extremely close family,” Rachel Headlee said. “My brother and my dad talked on the phone every single night. Just a father and son relationship like you have never seen in your life.”

A dispute over loud conversation led to Porter Headlee’s death Sunday evening, St. Petersburg police say.

Investigators say Lonnie Lee, 34, punched Porter Headlee to the ground and shot him with a revolver as Headlee stood back up after the two argued about noise outside Lee’s apartment.

According to the arrest warrant, Lee claims Porter Headlee pushed him in the chest before the shot was fired.

Police said Headlee was pronounced dead at the scene. Lee remains in St. Petersburg police custody on a second degree murder charge with no bond.

Rachel Headlee notes her brother knew Lee before the incident. She says she doubts Lee’s version of the story.

“My brother does not have a mean bone in his body,” she explained. “He has never laid a finger on anybody in his life.”

“When we get further down the road, we’ll know the truth,” Rachel Headlee said.

Louisiana State University student Evan Caris, who was Porter Headlee’s best friend, said Porter was “a happy person.”

“I met him on the bus on the way to middle school,” Caris recalled. “He’s been my best friend pretty much ever since.”

Caris, 25, remembers his best friend’s affinity for animals. He says one of his favorite memories involved a daring animal rescue Porter Headlee made when they were children.

“There was a turtle out in the middle of the road,” Caris explained. “And he ran out into traffic to save it.”

“He had a soft spot for animals. He was kind of a big softie.”

Like the Headlee family, Caris says he will never forget his best friend’s music and “crooked grin.”

“You never failed to laugh when you were around him.”

Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce said the best thing to do when facing a noise ordinance violation is to call 911 and lodge a complaint.

Pierce said officers need to be present and actually hear the noise before they take action. Complainants should provide police with all the information they need to address the possible ordinance violation.

“At that point, law enforcement is already involved,” Pierce explained. “With them involved, it takes the complainant out of the equation.”

Survivors include Porter Headlee’s parents, Thomas and Alice, who live in Kennesaw, and sisters Rachel, who lives in Austin, Texas, and Hannah, who lives in Atlanta. His funeral will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mount Paran North Church of God.

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