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Off-duty Ga. officer shot helping bystander

By Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — An off-duty Fulton County police officer was shot Friday afternoon when he stopped to help a bystander on his way home in North Gwinnett County and ended up exchanging gunfire with a man, authorities said.

Illana Spellman, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County police, said the officer suffered non-life threatening injuries , but she didn't know the extent of injuries to the suspect.

Both were taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, but no details on their conditions were available Friday afternoon.

Spellman said the officer was driving down Level Creek Road, about a mile north of North Gwinnett High School, when someone flagged him down about 1 p.m. The officer got into an altercation with a man and they exchanged gunfire, Spellman said. Neither the suspect or officer were identified.

"This is a very confusing scene and situation right now," Spellman said.

Richard Santry, who lives nearby, said his wife was driving to work about 1 p.m. when a woman beside the road yelled for help. Santry said his wife stopped to help when a man jumped out from behind a vehicle. Gunshots were fired and she hit the ground and called 911, Santry said.

Resident Sandra McKee said people in the neighborhood often exercise on the two-lane Level Creek Road.

"Can you imagine if one of us had been out walking," she said. "This is really creepy."

The shooting of a police officer near North Gwinnett High School didn't have any immediate effect on the school, said district spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

"We were aware that there was a shooting," Roach said. "We contacted police and asked if any of our schools needed to go in lockdown and we were told they didn't.

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