06/30/2006

Ga. officer, suspect killed in shootout

The Associated Press

Stone Mountain, GA- A playground that usually is filled with children is quiet Friday after a DeKalb County, Georgia, police officer and a suspect died in a shootout at an apartment complex in Stone Mountain.

Police say 33-year-old Detective Dennis Stepnowski died Thursday night at a hospital where he was taken after the shooting. The officer was a member of the police SWAT unit and had been with the department for ten years. He was married.

Police have not released the name of the suspect who died.

A neighbor says the man went by the nickname "No" because his family had moved to the area from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Police have not confirmed where the man lived earlier.

Police spokesman Sergeant Charles Dedrick says the incident began when Stepnowski and another officer - who were on routine patrol - saw the suspect, determined he looked suspicious and chased him.

Dedrick says shots were fired at some point during the chase.

The man was killed when police returned fire.

The incident unfolded in a grassy area bordered by a playground between four apartment buildings. In the center, beside a cluster of oak trees and a park bench, is the spot where another neighbor, Vaughn Smith, says the suspect was killed.

Hundreds of evacuees were relocated to four large apartment complexes in the area.

20-year-old Roderick Bennett says crime has increased since the evacuees moved into the complex.

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