Six police officers have been shot while on duty in Georgia in the last seven days — and two have died — capping an abnormally violent week for law enforcement in the state.
The six officers, all members of small town departments, were shot during three separate incidents beginning Dec. 7, according to authorities and multiple reports.
In the first shooting that Wednesday, in Americus, Georgia, officer Nicholas Ryan Smarr was shot responding to a domestic dispute inside a local apartment complex, an Americus police spokesman confirms. His best friend — officer Jody Smith a recent member of Georgia Southwestern University’s police force — decided to back Smarr up on the call.
Minguell Lembrick shot and killed Smarr, who was 25, before shooting Smith, who was 26 and eventually succumbed to his injuries, according to reports. Police immediately launched a manhunt for Lembrick that stretched into the next day. As police were closing in on Lembrick, they heard a single gunshot. Authorities later discovered he killed himself.
Smith had planned on marrying his fiancee this coming spring and Smarr was going to serve as his best man, according to 11 Alive.
Smith donated his organs so that others could live, according to a Facebook post from his father, Johnny Smith.
“Jody not only is a brave hero in life, but he is a hero in death,” the grieving father wrote. “He may save as many as seven people’s lives. My beloved son is still saving lives. … No greater love has any man as to lay down his life for another.”
The post ends: “My son, you are still making me proud, you are my hero.”
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Michael Waters, who is Smarr’s uncle, wrote on Facebook that after his nephew was shot, Smith rushed to his best friend’s side. Waters said Smarr died at the scene trying to resuscitate Smith: Smarr was performing CPR on his friend when he died, and his body was found across Smith’s
Lembrick’s relatives could not be reached for comment, and calls to the families of both fallen officers were not returned on Wednesday.
Two More Officers Are Hit
Early Monday morning, two more police officers were shot while serving a warrant in Byron, Georgia, the Macon Telegraph reports. The paper has identified the two officers as James Wynn and William Patterson; both men are expected to recover from their injuries.
The Telegraph reports the two officers knocked and announced their presence three times before entering the shooter’s home. As soon as they were inside, a man — who has not been identified — began shooting. The two officers returned fire, killing the suspect.
One of the two Byron officers remains in serious condition while the other was treated and released.
The Final Shooting
Several hours later on Monday, on the opposite side of the state, two officers in Lavonia, Georgia, were shot while trying to arrest an alleged car thief.
Officer Jeffery Martin and Capt. Michael Schulman had stopped a vehicle late Monday night and discovered the car was reported stolen, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. As the officers tried to detain the driver, 22-year-old Khari Anthony Dashaun Gordon, he allegedly produced a handgun and fired several shots at the officers.
A search for the suspect ended in a wooded area located just two miles from the shooting scene, according to the AJC.
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Gordon has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to the paper.
It is unclear if he’s entered a plea to the charges, and court records indicate he has yet to retain an attorney who could comment on his behalf. Efforts to reach his relatives were unsuccessful.
Schulman, 50, was struck under the armpit while wearing a bulletproof vest. Martin, 22, was shot in the right hand, according to the paper. The bullet remains in Martin’s hand; he’ll have to undergo specialized surgery to have it removed.
Schulman, who remains in intensive care, started working with the Lavonia Police Department in 2001, the AJC reports. Martin joined the force less than a year ago. His condition was unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, and PEOPLE could not immediately reach relatives of any of the four surviving officers.