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"He was part of our family," Knotts said, though they were not related. She said her family was aware that "he had a mental disorder" before he moved in.
Hill told her that his birth mother was dead and that he didn't know his father. He also has brothers.
Knotts was shocked when she realized Hill had been taken into custody.
"This is something that's totally out of his character. This is not him. This is not the Mike that I know. For anyone that knew Mike, this was a total devastation," she said in an interview at her home in Lithonia, Ga.
She kept in touch after he moved out and said he'd recently been living with another couple who belonged to the church. Knotts last saw Hill about a month ago and he seemed fine.
Knotts said Hill called her sister Tuesday afternoon before the shooting to thank the family for all they had done for him and said he had a rifle. He did not say what he was planning to do.
Police released an undated photo of Hill posing with an assault rifle they believe is the one used Tuesday.
Knotts said she thinks Hill's actions were a plea for help.
"Unfortunately," she said, "he didn't know a better way to get it."