UPDATE 10:30 p.m. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has released more information about a Sunday-morning shooting involving a Habersham County deputy that resulted in the death of an armed suspect, identifying that White County man.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that, at approximately 9:20 a.m., a Habersham County sheriff’s deputy initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle being operated by Christopher Collins, 24, of Tom Cantrell Road, Cleveland, on Rosewood Drive near the intersection with Ga. 15 [U.S. 441],” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said Sunday night.
That traffic stop followed an area-wide lookout following separate incidents earlier Sunday in White County and Toccoa.
“There was a BOLO, or a be on the lookout, for the vehicle and Mr. Collins out that had been broadcasted essentially to law enforcement in reference to an aggravated assault involving a handgun that occurred in White County,” Miles said. “Then in Toccoa there was an attempted carjacking involving a firearm, so law enforcement was already on the lookout.”
A Habersham County deputy sheriff encountered the vehicle near Tom Arrendale Interchange, where Ga. 15/U.S. 441 and Ga. 365 split, and the vehicle continued north, pulling into a driveway on Rosewood Drive.
“Essentially, the deputy asked [Collins] to exit the vehicle,” Miles said. “When he did exit the vehicle, he exited with a firearm.”
Miles said Collins failed to show his hands after repeated orders from the deputy sheriff to do so.
“So, when he came out of the vehicle, the deputy fired his weapon, striking him,” Miles said. “He was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
No deputies were injured.
Miles said the GBI investigation is ongoing to determine the exact circumstances of what happened.
“Our process is a standard process, and we have a whole set of procedures that we follow, a use of force procedures manual, and we investigate this,” Miles said. “It’s not an administrative investigation when the GBI gets called; it is a criminal investigation, so what we do is conduct an independent investigation.”
Miles said officer-involved shooting investigations are a priority for the GBI, and average 60 to 90 days to complete.
“It is a routine process,” Miles said. “Whenever there is an officer-involved use of force incident, and in this case it was a firearm, the local law enforcement agency or the agency that is in the process of working a case like this, they ask for an independent body, so that’s where the GBI comes in to investigate. And this is any case that results in serious bodily injury or the death of a subject and an officer is involved.”
Miles pointed out the GBI probe is not connected to the status of the officer involved, in this case a deputy sheriff.
“What we’re doing, the criminal investigation, is not related to the administrative status of the deputy that’s involved,” Miles said.
As is standard in such cases, when that probe is complete, the information gathered by the GBI will be turned over to the Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review and any further action.
MT. AIRY – AccessWDUN has learned more about incidents reportedly involving the suspect who was shot by Habersham County sheriff’s deputies mid-morning Sunday.
Toccoa Police Chief Tim Jarrell said one of those incidents occurred in White County, while another occurred in his jurisdiction.
“At 7:34 a.m., Toccoa Police Department was notified by White County of a vehicle taken there after a weapon was brandished," Jarrell said. “At 8:39 a.m., we were notified of an attempted carjacking at Pruitt Health, also known as Toccoa Nursing Center, on Falls Road. The suspect matched the description given to us by White County, and the vehicle roughly matched the description of the vehicle taken in White County.”
Jarrell said the man was unsuccessful in obtaining the vehicle he attempted to take at gunpoint in Toccoa.
“But he did produce a gun in a threatening manner toward the elderly motorist in Toccoa,” Jarrell said.
When the man was unsuccessful in stealing the vehicle, he fled from Pruitt Health toward Habersham County in the Ford SUV. A lookout was issued to Habersham County authorities.
Jarrell said Habersham County deputies had contact with the suspect vehicle in the area of Tom Arrendale Interchange on Ga. 15.
“From there, I’ll refer you to the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office,” Jarrell said.
As reported earlier, Habersham County Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Wurtz has confirmed that Habersham County deputies were involved in a shooting near Tom Arrendale Interchange where Ga. 15 (U.S. 441) and Ga. 365 split.
Wurtz said all Habersham County deputies are uninjured, but declined to release further information pending the active and ongoing investigation.
Both Wurtz and Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles confirmed the GBI has agents en route at the request of the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office.
Wurtz said further details will be released later.