AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — A man fatally shot one Georgia police officer and wounded a second before fleeing an apartment complex near a college campus that went on lockdown as a precaution, authorities said. They said the suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous.
The shooting took place when the two officers were responding to a domestic dispute in Americus, about 130 miles south of Atlanta, Americus police Chief Mark Scott said.
Americus police Officer Nicholas Smarr, 25, died and Georgia Southwestern State University Officer Jodi Smith was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition, Scott said. Both had been officers since 2012.
“It’s a tremendous loss to our family,” Scott said of Smarr’s death. “It’s a tragedy beyond words. One of our family members has been taken from us.”
The suspect, 32-year-old Minguell Kennedy Lembrick, was still at large and local, state and federal law enforcement officers were searching for him, Scott said.
Scott urged anyone who sees Lembrick to call police but warned, “Do not attempt to approach him. He is armed and dangerous.”
GBI Director Vernon Keenan said his agency and the FBI are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Lembrick’s arrest.
“This is a very dangerous individual. We need to have him off the streets,” Keenan said. “We need him arrested so he can face the courts.”
Lembrick already had outstanding warrants for kidnapping and other charges related to a previous domestic incident, but the officers didn’t know whom they were dealing with when they responded to the 911 call, Scott told reporters.
Shortly after the shootings Wednesday, a message posted on Lembrick’s Facebook page read: “other life gone not going to jail.”
Also posted to Lembrick’s account was a four-second Facebook Live video showing a young man partly concealed by shadows saying, “I’m gonna miss y’all folk, man.” The final message on Lembrick’s page read: “Love yall.”
All three posts had Facebook timestamps between 10:13 a.m. and 10:41 a.m. The video was removed a few hours after it was posted.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles confirmed to The Associated Press that the Facebook page belongs to the suspect.
The university issued an alert on its website saying the shooting occurred off campus but that the campus was on lockdown. University interim President Charles Patterson told reporters the lockdown remained in effect late Wednesday afternoon.
At least five other Georgia law enforcement officers have been killed by gunmen in the line of duty this year.
-A deputy U.S. marshal, Patrick Carothers, was fatally shot Nov. 28 while trying to serve a warrant at a home in rural Long County, about 55 miles southwest of Savannah. Law officers with Carothers returned fire and killed the suspect, Dontrell Montese Carter. Carothers was deputy commander of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force for the U.S. Marshals Service.
-On Nov. 6, two Peach County sheriff’s deputies were shot while responding to a report that a middle Georgia man used a rifle to threaten people riding a motorcycle and a four-wheeler near his property. Sgt. Patrick Dondron and Deputy Daryl Smallwood died from injuries suffered in the attack near Byron, about 16 miles southwest of Macon. Ralph Stanley Elrod was charged with murder and aggravated assault on a police officer.
-Eastman Patrol Officer Timothy Smith died after being shot Aug. 13 while responding to a call of a suspicious person with a gun in the rural city about 60 miles southeast of Macon. Royheem Delshawn Deeds was charged with murder in the case after he was caught hiding in the trunk of a car in Florida.
-Riverdale police Maj. Greg Barney was killed Feb. 11 after he was shot four times while chasing a fleeing suspect as drug investigators searched a metro Atlanta apartment building. Jerand Ross was charged with murder after another officer shot and wounded him.