Police found the body of R. Blake Lazenby, 54, at his home on Stonehill Road around 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to a press release from Capt. Chris Carden. Officers went to the residence after Lazenby’s vehicle, a white 2009 GMC Yukon, was found on fire in the Tarrant area in Jefferson County by local authorities.
Talladega County Coroner Shaddix Murphy said he received a call around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday. He arrived at the scene and pronounced Lazenby dead at approximately 11:45 p.m.
Murphy said multiple gunshot wounds appeared to be the cause of death. He also said it appeared the weapon used was a handgun, which was not found at the scene.
The approximate time of death was between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., when the vehicle was first spotted by law enforcement, Murphy estimated.
Sylacauga police received word of the vehicle from Tarrant police after they ran the vehicle’s license number. Lazenby was reportedly last seen dropping off friends in Alexander City around 4 p.m., and then at a gas station on Alabama 21 in Sylacauga around 5:30 p.m.
Murphy said they found Lazenby in his dining room, wearing a suit and tie. No one else was home when he was found.
Members of the District Attorney’s Office are working with police on the investigation. District Attorney Steve Giddens confirmed that authorities are treating the shooting as a homicide, but declined to discuss it further.
A representative of the Tarrant Police Department could not be reached for comment.
Lazenby had served as an attorney for the city of Sylacauga in its lawsuit against REEF Environmental, owner of a nearby wastewater treatment facility.
“Although Lazenby’s law office was based in Talladega, he did a good deal of work in Calhoun County and was well known here,” said Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks. “He practiced civil law, defending workman’s compensation and other cases for insurance companies, Hooks said.
“He’s a prominent lawyer, been around a long time,” Hooks said. “A good guy, really, really nice guy.”
Lazenby also did a lot of mediation work, said former Calhoun County Circuit Judge Joel Laird, who has been friends with Lazenby since their college days at the University of Alabama. Lazenby was a few years ahead of Laird, but they were fraternity brothers, Laird said.
“He had that ability to bring both sides together and get a case settled out of court,” Laird said.
“It was part of Lazenby’s nature. He didn’t like to ruffle anybody’s feathers and wanted everybody to be happy with the outcome of a case,” Laird said.
“He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to know,” Laird said. “He just always wanted to do the right thing.”
Anyone with information on the crime can contact the police department’s investigations division at 256-401-2464. People can also report anonymously through the department’s automated tip line at 256-249-4716.
— Consolidated News reporter Laura Camper contributed to this report