Ga. officer dies in accidental discharge incident

Officer Down: Chief Investigator Al Suarez - [Boston, Georgia]


Biographical Info

Age: 60

Additional Info: Chief Investigator Suarez had previously served as the Boston (Ga.) PD's police chief, as a jailer with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office, and as a corrections officer with the Georgia Department of Corrections. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Cause of Death: Accidental gunfire

Incident Details: Chief Investigator Suarez was accidentally shot and killed by another officer as the officer finished cleaning his gun during a shift change at the police station. The weapon was discharged after the officer reloaded it. He was hit in the chest.

Chief Investigator Suarez's wife was a 911 operator for the county and was on duty when the incident occurred.

Date of Incident: May 4, 2007

The Associated Press

BOSTON, Ga. — A south Georgia police officer was killed in what is believed to be an accidental shooting by another officer.

Officer Al Suarez was pronounced dead at 7:19 p.m. Friday at the Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville.

Suarez and a couple of other officers were at the police station when the shooting happened.

"One officer was cleaning his weapon. After he cleaned it, he charged it, and it went off," said Capt. John Richards of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

Suarez was struck in the chest, Richards said.

The name of the officer whose gun fired was not immediately released.

The shooting is being investigated by the Thomas County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Suarez had previously served as police chief for Boston before surrendering the position. Before that, he had served as a jailer for the sheriff's office.

Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell remembered Suarez as a pleasant, helpful officer.

"He had a kind approach to people. I'm personally going to miss him a lot," Powell said.

Richards had known Suarez for more than 25 years. The two worked together at the Thomas County Correctional Institute as correctional officers.

"He was a good person to have as a friend. He'd give you the shirt off his back," Richards said. "He would do anything for a friend or for any officer."

The investigation into the shooting will continue, but Richards said preliminary findings indicate the shooting was an accident.

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