Suspect sought in killing of Ga. police officer

AP News
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 7:55 PM
Suspect sought in killing of Ga. police officer

Authorities in a north Georgia college town were searching Wednesday for a suspect in a shooting that left one Athens police officer dead and another wounded.

The shooting began just before 1 p.m. Tuesday when Senior Police Officer Tony Howard stopped a Chevrolet Suburban, authorities said. The passenger got out of the SUV and shot and wounded Howard.

The driver was arrested, but the passenger ran and encountered another senior officer, Elmer "Buddy" Christian. Police said the passenger shot and killed Christian in his patrol car.

The suspect has been identified as 33-year-old Jamie Hood. Police said a reward of $50,000 is being offered for his arrest.

The FBI contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Wednesday to say they were adding $40,000 to $10,000 already offered for information leading to Hood's arrest.

"I believe $50,000 is a good incentive for someone to come forward and offer up Jamie Hood for arrest," GBI Director Vernon Keenan said.

Funeral services have been set for this weekend in Athens for the fallen officer.

Visitation will start at 4 p.m. Saturday and continue as long as necessary to accommodate visitors at Bernstein Funeral Home in Athens, police said in a statement.

The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Classic Center in Athens.

The funeral procession will travel west on Broad Street to Evergreen Memorial Park, and police are asking residents to line the roadway from downtown to the cemetery in honor of Christian.

A trust fund for Christian's wife and two children, ages 2 and 5, has been set up, Athens-Clarke County officials said. Donations to the Buddy Christian Memorial Fund may be made at any Athens First Bank & Trust location or mailed to the bank's headquarters at 150 W. Hancock Ave. in Athens. The "Buddy Christian Memorial Fund" should be indicated on donation checks, authorities said.

Howard underwent surgery and is expected to recover, police said, but have not provided details.

Howard's friend, Jeffrey Mack, told WGCL-TV the wounded officer was alert and wanted to go back to work.

In his hospital bed, "he woke up policing," Athens-Clarke Police Chief Jack Lumpkin told the Athens Banner-Herald. "He started telling us who and where we should check" in the search for the suspect, Lumpkin said.

After the shooting, police fanned out along a major highway and conducted a house-by-house search for Hood.

The search Wednesday morning apparently shifted east, prompting Oglethorpe County school officials to place schools on lock-down.

The shootings came on the same day police chiefs from around the country said they supported longer prison terms for gun-carrying felons as a way to combat a recent rise in line-of-duty deaths. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, also saying he was worried about the rise, directed U.S. attorneys nationwide to identify repeat offenders for possible prosecution under federal law that would make them eligible for stiffer sentences.

A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. Before the Georgia shootings, so far this year, 49 lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.