Ga. cop killer surrenders after hostage standoff
Jamie Hood agreed to surrender "only if it was broadcast on live TV"
By Dorie Turner
ATHENS, Ga. - The man suspected of killing a Georgia police officer and wounding another who tried to apprehend him told authorities he would surrender and release the five hostages he was holding in an apartment - only if it was broadcast on live TV.
Jamie Hood, 33, walked out of the apartment late Friday night shirtless and surrounded by five of the nine adults and children he had held captive for hours as he negotiated with federal, state and local authorities. It was a prime-time ending to a four-day manhunt around this quiet college town.
The tattooed, head-shaven Hood was immediately swarmed by tactical officers in green fatigues and wielding high-powered guns, patting him down and ordering him to the ground. He did not resist.
"He was convinced he was going to be killed by law enforcement," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan, who an hour earlier had gone before TV cameras to promise Hood that he would not be harmed if he turned himself in and freed the hostages.
Keenan said Hood, whose brother had been killed by police a decade earlier while Hood was in prison, insisted that his surrender be broadcast live by a news camera crew to ensure he was not harmed.
Investigators said that they believe Hood was using cocaine on Friday. Athens Police Capt. Clarence Holeman said Hood was armed, though he would not release further details, citing an ongoing investigation.
On Saturday, Sheriff's Sgt. Doug Mattocks said Hood was being held in jail without bond. Hood does not yet have an initial court appearance scheduled. A defense attorney hired by his family, Jim Smith, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Saturday.
"I just thank God it's all over," said Jennifer Hood, Jamie Hood's sister. "It's finally over."
Police had been searching for Hood since Tuesday, when Athens-Clarke County police officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian was shot and killed while police say he tried to apprehend Hood. Another officer, Tony Howard, was shot in the face and upper body and is recovering.
The manhunt led authorities to several locations around Athens-Clarke County, about 75 miles northeast of Atlanta, as they received a flurry of tips about where he might be hiding. Officers descended on an area in east Athens, surrounding an apartment complex and barricading nearby roads.
As the search intensified, Hood reached out to police around 3:40 p.m. Friday and asked to talk to authorities about surrendering, Keenan said. He told police he was afraid for his life and that he would harm the hostages if his demands were not met, Keenan said.
After hours of negotiations, Hood agreed around 9 p.m. to free four hostages, which authorities saw as a promising sign.
Television cameras trained at the apartment's door showed him emerging along with the remaining hostages, single file and hands in the air, around 11:15 p.m. He was later led to a police car, where TV cameras showed him calmly talking.
Former University of Georgia football player Bryant Gantt, who knew Hood in passing, said he posted a message on his Facebook page offering to help. As police closed in, friends put Gantt in touch with Hood by telephone. The former football player told WSB-TV that he helped FBI negotiators talk with the suspect for hours.
"It was up and down, you know," Gantt said. "He was scared. You finally could tell that he was scared of the whole situation. He was ready to get it over with. He was tired, he was worn out."
The people who emerged with Hood were led away by officers and questioned, Keenan said. Authorities said the nine hostages included a toddler, an infant and a 13-year-old girl. None of the hostages appeared to be hurt, Keenan said, and investigators were trying to determine how Hood knew them.
Quinton Riden, one of the hostages, said Hood didn't threaten them or treat them badly during the ordeal. He said he and Hood are acquaintances.
"Jamie didn't do no harm to none of us," Riden said outside the Athens-Clarke County police station after being questioned by police early Saturday. "He treated us like family."
Police said Hood had been on the run for days after Tuesday's shooting.
Officers had stopped Hood while he was in an SUV in West Athens around 1 p.m. Tuesday, seeking to question him in connection with a carjacking and kidnapping. The vehicle's driver was arrested, but police say Hood got out of the vehicle and shot Howard in the face and upper body. He then fatally shot Christian as he sat in the patrol car, authorities said.
Hood was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1997 on armed robbery charges and was released in 2009. In 2001, while Hood was serving time, his 22-year-old brother Timothy Hood was shot and killed by an Athens police officer. Investigators said at the time that Timothy Hood pulled a gun on an officer and was shot when the weapon jammed.
Jennifer Hood said that her brother Jamie coached a children's football team and played sports in high school, and that he never missed a family event. She said he came to her house Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting, but she was in the shower and he left before she could see him.
"I wish there had been something I could have said or done," she said.
Police are expecting thousands of people to attend Sunday's funeral for Christian, who was an 8-year veteran of the Athens police department. Christian, 34, was married with two young children.