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Sheriff's office names alleged victim suspect in drug buy

COVINGTON - The Newton County Sheriff's Office has made an arrest in what it believes to have been a drug-buy gone bad that resulted in shots being fired in a residential area, according to NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson.

Jamie Alverez Morando, 48, of 210 Park Place was reported by concerned neighbors to be the victim of a kidnapping and shooting. Investigators, however, found that Morando was not a victim, but rather a suspect. After searching for nearly two weeks, he was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

"Neighbors saw and heard someone shooting and then saw a subject hurried into a vehicle, according to initial reports," Watterson said. "The investigation revealed that the gentleman was only struck in the head and was not shot, and he was leaving the residence of his own free will."

When deputies arrived at the Park Place residence about 7:30 p.m. June 12, they found seven Spanish-speaking individuals at the home, but the homeowner was not there.

Watterson said the witnesses were all taken to NCSO headquarters to make statements, and in the meantime, a search was conducted of the residence. Nearly three pounds of marijuana was discovered in the master bedroom and $23,703 in cash was found in the attic, Watterson said.

It was also discovered that one of the shots fired struck a nearby home, but Watterson said it is believed the shooting was initiated by individuals who were present to purchase marijuana. He said that aspect of the case is still under investigation.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.