Wednesday July 6th, 2022 7:11PM

Chief: Officer died doing what he liked to do

By by Ken Stanford
UNDATED - The Pendergrass police officer who was killed during a shootout Wednesday night on U.S. 129/Georgia 11 is remembered fondly by the department.

But, his boss, Chief Rob Russell, says Chris Ruse died doing what he liked to do.

"He loved being a policeman," said Chief Russell. "That's what he wanted to do and that's what he died doing."

Russell adds, however, when an officer is killed in the line of dusty, it makes you stop and take stock. "It came home to everybody because a lot (of officers) say 'it could have been me, it could have been me'."

Investigators say Ruse was killed by one of two men in a pickup that crashed on U.S. 129/Georgia 11 (the Athens Highway) near Talmo at the end of a high-speed chase about 8:30. The shooting occurred between Sosebee and Pond Fork Church roads.

Authorities said as he approached the truck, shots were fired and Ruse and one of the men were hit. Both suspects reportedly fled on foot and were arrested after a manhunt.

The administrative supervisor at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Shannon Garner, said Ruse died at the hospital. The emergency room, Shannon said, had been alerted that a critically wounded police officer was being transported to the hospital and was ready when he arrived.

"The emergency room physicians and (a trauma team) were ready for his arrival, but he expired shortly after he got here," Garner said. "He had severe injuries..."

The wounded suspect was hospitalized in stable condition at the medical center.

Georgia State Patrol Trooper Larry Schnall says that shortly after 8:00 Wednesday night, troopers from the Patrol's Athens and Gainesville posts were dispatched to a police pursuit that ended with an officer shot.

The State Patrol called in its aviation unit to help in a manhunt for the two suspects. Schnall says the GBI is investigating the shooting, and the patrol is investigating the crash.

A force of just two officers began to patrol the 25 miles of road in Pendergrass, a town of 500 residents, in early 2003. They monitor the speed of drivers on U.S. 129, the main route between Gainesville and Athens.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope says U.S. 129/Georgia 11 was closed at the scene of the shooting from about 8:30 Wednesday night until about 5:30 Thursday morning because of the incident and the subsequent on-site investigation.

Ruse was 47 and leaves behind a wife and children.

(The Associated Press and Georgia News Network contributed to this story.)
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