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Ga. officers shot while serving warrant expected to recover

A man opened fire on the officers while they were serving a search warrant for a drug case


By Liz Fabian
The Macon Telegraph

BYRON, Ga. — A Crawford County man was shot and killed early Monday after he allegedly fired a shotgun on police officers who were serving a search warrant in a drug case.

About eight members of the Peach County Drug Task Force were dressed in protective gear as they arrived at 6750 Ga. 42 South shortly after 2 a.m., GBI special agent in charge J.T. Ricketson said.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson works at a scene of a shooting involving multiple officers while serving a search warrant at a home in Crawford County, Ga., Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Woody Marshall/The Macon Telegraph via AP)
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson works at a scene of a shooting involving multiple officers while serving a search warrant at a home in Crawford County, Ga., Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (Woody Marshall/The Macon Telegraph via AP)

"No one came to the door, so they made entry, and as soon as they made it inside, one of the occupants started shooting," said Ricketson, of the GBI's Perry office.

Two Byron police officers, James Wynn and William Patterson, were wounded when the suspect started shooting. The police returned fire, killing the gunman.

The suspect's girlfriend and newborn baby also were at home as officers made their way in, but the pair were not hurt in the exchange of bullets.

Ricketson said officers came in through the back door, but the suspect's body was in the front of the house, near the front door.

The task force, which includes officers from Peach and Crawford counties, Byron and Fort Valley, knocked on the door and and announced themselves, according to the preliminary investigation, Ricketson.

The officers were taken to Medical Center, Navicent Health.

Byron police Lt. Bryan Hunter said Wynn underwent surgery for injuries to his upper arm and "is expected to make a full recovery." Hunter said Patterson was treated and released.

The suspect's identity has not been released, but he is about 35 years old, Ricketson said. He lived with the girlfriend and their month-old child at the house.

GBI agents locked down the scene and secured search warrants for the property.

They are interviewing officers and collecting bullets and guns to determine which weapons were fired.

Officers from multiple jurisdictions are assisting in the case, including Bibb County, which sent officers to help Byron police during the investigation.

Just last month, officers swarmed on Byron after two Peach County deputies, Patrick Sondron and Daryl Smallwood were fatally wounded.

"I drove right past the other scene to get here," Ricketson said.

Crawford County sheriff's Capt. Johnny Cleveland said no officers from his department were involved, although all law enforcement is affected by the officer shootings that are becoming much more frequent.

"I guess it's a sign of the times," Cleveland said.

Although Ga. 42 was closed briefly following the shooting, traffic is flowing again, Cleveland said.

Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker said it has been a tough year for law enforcement in Middle Georgia, where several officers have been shot and killed.

"We just truly thank the men and women who suit up every day and perform their duties in their respective communities," he said.

Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke visited the crime scene Monday morning.

"Really what I'm looking at is just to make sure that no laws were violated," Cooke told reporters. "That's my job as DA to make sure that everyone followed the law in executing the search warrant and in the course of the shooting."

Cooke did not elaborate on the allegations against the shooter, whose name was expected to be released Monday afternoon.

The Byron Police Department called on its Facebook friends to put up blue light bulbs to show support for law enforcement throughout Peach County.

"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness," the post stated.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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