By Marcus K. Garner and John Spink
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A $5,000 reward is now being offered for help in capturing a man who shot a Cobb County policeman early Friday morning, authorities said.
More than 10 hours after the incident, officers from a half dozen agencies continued searching for the gunman who police are considering armed and dangerous.
"When we've got an armed gunman out there on foot, loose in the area, we don't want him to cause injury or death to anybody," Cobb County Police spokesman Michael Bowman said late Friday morning.
With an army of officers panning out through the neighborhood near Smyrna going door to door, residents watching the manhunt are voicing their concern and desire to work with police.
"I'd grab hold of him until somebody came and got him," said Clyde Neal, the 91-year-old World War II U.S. Marine veteran who lives across the street from the apartment complex where the shooting took place.
The officer, who has been been identified, was on a routine patrol shortly after 1 a.m., when he encountered a suspicious man walking through the Concord Chase Apartments on Hurt Road near Smyrna, Cobb County Police spokesman Michael Bowman said.
When the man saw the officer he ran, Bowman said.
The officer pursued, and the man turned and fired at least once, hitting the officer, police said.
The gunman escaped, but police said the officer, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, was taken to an area hospital where he is in good condition.
"We all wear vests," Bowman said. "If he was shot in the upper area where he wears the vest, it could have saved his life."
Police are hoping to contain the shooter in the one-mile around the shooting.
"Within a minute and a half (of the shooting), we already had officers on the scene securing a perimeter," Bowman said. "We want (the gunman) to know, 'You didn't kill the officer. He's in good condition. Let's not make it any worse than it already is."
Still, residents are struggling with nervousness and vigilance.
Four-year resident Winter Lester said the police shooting -- on top of problems with drugs, fights and gang activity -- has convinced her it is time to move.
"This is the last straw," Lester told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm not going to be anywhere I'm not safe."
Neal said he wasn't troubled by any threat the gunman might pose.
"As long as they don't mess with me," Neal said.
SWAT units from Cobb County police and the Cobb Sheriff's Office were joined by officers from Powder Springs, Smyrna, Austell and Cobb County Fire Department, Bowman said. A DeKalb County helicopter unit also was assisting.
"We believe he's still on foot in the area," Bowman said.
Bowman said officers were searching through abandoned apartment units in the complex.
Lester, a mother of two, worried what might happen if the gunman is not caught.
"You don't know where he is and you don't know if, out of desperation, he's going to go the nearest person he sees or to the nearest (occupied) unit to be hidden," she said.
Police are looking for a black man of medium to thin build with dark complexion and short hair in twists wearing a white T-shirt and khaki pants. He is considered armed and dangerous.
"If you see him, please call 9-1-1 immediately," Bowman said.
Please return for updates.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution