GBI Officials Believe Shooting Suspect Still In Athens
Channel 2s John Bachman went along with police Wednesday night as they circulated wanted posters with pictures of 33-year-old Jamie Hood.
On Wednesday, authorities also released a sketch photo of what Hood might look like without being able to shave his head, which police said he was known to do.
The reward for information leading to Hood’s arrest was increased to $50,000 on Wednesday.
Hundreds of officers from several local and state law enforcement agencies have focused their search in areas across Clarke County, where they said Hood could be hiding.
“We have put the lookout nationwide, but we believe he is probably in our area,” said Athens Clarke County Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin at a Wednesday news conference. “He should be considered as extremely dangerous.”
SLIDESHOW: Pictures Of Jamie Hood
SLIDESHOW: 2 Officers Shot In Athens
SLIDESHOW: Injured Officer Tony Howard
Suspect’s Appearance May Have Changed
Athens Carjacking Victim Speaks
“We have over 150 officers committed to the fugitive hunt. These officers have been formed into arrest teams,” said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting with the search. Keenan encouraged anyone with information about Hood to call 911 immediately.
Lumpkin said Hood initially committed two carjackings, one before the police shootings and one after.
Channel 2s Erica Byfield interviewed a woman who said she was one of Hood’s carjacking victims.
“I saw the guy waiting, but I wasn’t really paying attention,” the woman said, after having picked up food from a fast food restaurant. She told Byfield that she pulled up to a stop sign and a man opened her passenger side door.
“He just grabbed the car latch and got in the car,” she said. The man pulled out a gun and told her the police were after him and she needed to drive quickly, the woman recounted.
Less than five minutes later, she said the man told her to get out of the car.
“I just know that God was there and he let me out of that car,” the woman said.
Police said the vehicle taken in the carjacking was a silver Chevrolet Prism with Georgia license plate 375GHX. The vehicle was later found, but there was no sign of Hood.
Lumpkin said authorities are following up on different leads. He spoke sternly about Hood and the shootings.
“Its assassination, it’s ambushing police,” Lumpkin said. He choked back tears when asked about the slain officers family.
Crime Stoppers doubled its regular reward of up to $5,000 to $10,000 for information leading to Hood’s arrest. The FBI is contributing another $40,000.
Athens-Clarke County police said Hood shot and killed Senior Police Officer Elmer Buddy Christian, a veteran of the force.
“He was the epitome of a good person. Just a great person who loved to help people,” Lumpkin said.
Senior Police Officer Tony Howard was also wounded. Howard was awake, alert and doing well, officials said. He is expected to make a full recovery. Family members told Channel 2 that Howard was shot in the face and chest.
Byfield spoke to one of Howard’s cousins outside Athens Regional Medical Center.
This is terrible, this is sad, Gloria Jones said.
“Two fine upstanding young men. Two fine young men who devoted their life to service other. Two good-hearted people who epitomized this community policing,” said Lumpkin of the officers.
The shooting happened near an apartment complex on Sycamore Drive in Athens on Tuesday.
At about 12:53 p.m., police said, they were investigating an alleged kidnapping and carjacking, in which Hood was named a suspect, that had occurred on Winterville Road.
Police said Howard spotted a vehicle driven by one of Hood’s relatives.
When Howard stopped the vehicle, the driver appeared to be compliant, but that’s when Hood got out of the vehicle and opened fire on the officer, police said.
Hood fled the scene and encountered more officers, at which point he shot into a police cruiser driven by Christian, fatally wounding the officer, police said.
Hood’s parents spoke to Channel 2 Action News and pleaded with their son to turn himself in.
Im begging Jamie to turn himself in. I mean, I dont want anything to happen to him. They say he killed that officer and shot the other — thats wrong. I feel sorry for the family, said Hoods mother, Azalee Hood.
I hope he gives himself up, said father Robert Hood. Lord have mercy.
A witness who heard shots described them to Channel 2’s Manuel Bojorquez.
“It was definitely a large caliber … it must have killed instantly,” said Bobby Billups of the gun he heard.
Byfield also spoke to the mayor of Athens-Clarke County.
Our police department is totally shaken, as I am, as is everyone in the county, said Mayor Nancy Denson.
News Chopper 2 flew over the area and showed officers gathered around a police cruiser with the driver’s side window shattered and broken glass in the road.
News Chopper 2 also showed another man in handcuffs who was taken into custody. That man was not identified.
Clarke County school officials placed all schools on a soft lockdown Tuesday and Wednesday as the manhunt continued.
Funeral arrangements for Christian were finalized Wednesday. Visitation will be Saturday at Bernstein Funeral Home starting at 4 p.m. and will continue as long as necessary to accommodate visitors. The funeral home is at 3195 Atlanta Highway in Athens.
The funeral service will be Sunday at 2 p.m at the Classic Center on North Thomas Street in Athens. The procession will travel west on Broad Street to Evergreen Memorial Park on Atlanta Highway. Citizens are asked to line the roadway from downtown to the cemetery in honor of Christian.
Christian is survived by his wife, son, daughter, parents and one brother.
Howard is the father of four boys. His wife also works in law enforcement.
A Memorial Fund for Christian has been set up at Athens First Bank.
Donations may be dropped off at any branch of Athens First Bank, or you may mail a donation to: Athens First Bank, 150 West Hancock Ave., Athens, GA 30601, with a notation that it is for the fund.