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Suffering from Alzheimer's, Georgia man wanders toward stranger's home, fatally shot

  • A photo of Ret. Lt. Col. Ronald Westbrook sits on the coffee table in his home, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in Chickamauga, Ga. The last walk that Westbrook took began as early as 1 a.m. when he slipped unnoticed from his North Georgia home with his two dogs. It ended three hours later when Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, knocked in the dark on a stranger’s door. A man inside that home, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix, got a .40-caliber handgun, went outside to investigate and shot Westbrook in a horrible mistake. The unlikely collision between two strangers, one deeply confused, another likely startled in the dark, illustrates both the difficulties that caregivers face in keeping loved ones with Alzheimer’s safe and the consequences of miscalculation in a state that celebrates its gun culture. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

    A photo of Ret. Lt. Col. Ronald Westbrook sits on the coffee table in his home, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in Chickamauga, Ga. The last walk that Westbrook took began as early as 1 a.m. when he slipped unnoticed from his North Georgia home with his two dogs. It ended three hours later when Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, knocked in the dark on a stranger’s door. A man inside that home, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix, got a .40-caliber handgun, went outside to investigate and shot Westbrook in a horrible mistake. The unlikely collision between two strangers, one deeply confused, another likely startled in the dark, illustrates both the difficulties that caregivers face in keeping loved ones with Alzheimer’s safe and the consequences of miscalculation in a state that celebrates its gun culture. (AP Photo/David Goldman)  (The Associated Press)

  • The house where Ronald Westbrook was mistakingly killed by homeowner Joe Hendrix, is seen, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in Chickamauga, Ga. The last walk that Westbrook took began as early as 1 a.m. when he slipped unnoticed from his North Georgia home with his two dogs. It ended three hours later when Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, knocked in the dark on a stranger’s door. A man inside that home, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix, got a .40-caliber handgun, went outside to investigate and shot Westbrook in a horrible mistake. The unlikely collision between two strangers, one deeply confused, another likely startled in the dark, illustrates both the difficulties that caregivers face in keeping loved ones with Alzheimer’s safe and the consequences of miscalculation in a state that celebrates its gun culture. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

    The house where Ronald Westbrook was mistakingly killed by homeowner Joe Hendrix, is seen, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in Chickamauga, Ga. The last walk that Westbrook took began as early as 1 a.m. when he slipped unnoticed from his North Georgia home with his two dogs. It ended three hours later when Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, knocked in the dark on a stranger’s door. A man inside that home, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix, got a .40-caliber handgun, went outside to investigate and shot Westbrook in a horrible mistake. The unlikely collision between two strangers, one deeply confused, another likely startled in the dark, illustrates both the difficulties that caregivers face in keeping loved ones with Alzheimer’s safe and the consequences of miscalculation in a state that celebrates its gun culture. (AP Photo/David Goldman)  (The Associated Press)

The last walk that Ronald Westbrook took started around 1 a.m. He slipped unnoticed from his North Georgia home with his two dogs.

It ended three hours later when the 72-year-old Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, knocked on a stranger's door.

Police say a man inside that home, 34-year-old Joe Hendrix, got a .40-caliber handgun, went outside to investigate and shot Westbrook in a horrible mistake.

It was an unlikely collision between two strangers, one of them deeply confused and another who perceived a threat in the dark. It shows the difficulties that caregivers face in keeping loved ones with Alzheimer's safe and the consequences of miscalculation in a state that celebrates its gun culture.

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AP reporter Kate Brumback contributed to this report from Atlanta.

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Follow Ray Henry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rhenryAP.