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Monroe County man dies by suicide after suspicious bar fire

A man killed himself at his ex-wife's house hours after a fire destroyed the bar he managed in Monroe County

FORSYTH, Ga. — UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.

Anna Lewis of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office says the Backwoods Bar fire is being investigated as arson due to "evidence" -- but she would not describe the evidence.

She said Gary Lawrence and Amanda Smallwood co-owned the bar, but she called Lawrence the "main owner."

A press release from Lewis says Lawrence was seen by witnesses leaving the bar shortly before the call about the fire was made.

The release says after he left the bar, he drove to his sister's house to swap cars, then drove to his ex-wife's house in Macon, where he committed suicide.

Lewis also said they are investigating whether the fire and Lawrence's death are related.


Authorities say a Monroe County man killed himself Tuesday, just two hours after a suspicious fire destroyed the bar that he managed.

So far, investigators are not saying that the two cases are connected, but they're still looking into what happened.

The Monroe County Emergency Services says the fire hit the Backwoods Bar and Grill on High Falls Road.

They say crews found heavy smoke and flames and it took them several hours to put it out.

Volunteer firefighters worked to protect nearby businesses. No one was injured.

In a Facebook post, emergency services called the fire "very suspicious."

About two hours later, according to Bibb County coroner Leon Jones, bar manager Gary Lawrence went to his ex-wife's house on Normandy Road in Bibb County.

He said Lawrence told his ex-wife that he was going to kill himself, and then shot himself.

Lawrence, 74, died on the scene, Jones said.

Anna Lewis of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office says they're investigating the fire, but said no additional information was available.


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