AMERICUS, Ga. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting a Georgia police officer and wounding another is dead, authorities said Thursday after a SWAT team stormed a home where a tipster had told police the suspect was hiding.
The manhunt for 32-year-old Minquell Lembrick ended a day after a gunman killed Americus police Officer Nicholas Smarr and critically wounded Officer Jody Smith of Georgia Southwestern State University. Both officers were shot as they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Americus, a rural city 130 miles south of Atlanta. The shooting happened near campus, prompting university officials to place the school on lockdown.
Police identified Lembrick as a suspect in the shootings and offered a $70,000 reward for information leading to his capture. The SWAT team was dispatched to the house in Americus after authorities received a tip, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles.
SWAT officers emerged from the home a short time after entering, and police said the manhunt was over.
“It’s confirmed that the suspect is dead,” Americus police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks told The Associated Press.
She gave no further details, including whether police shot Lembrick or found him dead. Americus Police Chief Mark Scott planned a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Scott said Wednesday that Lembrick had an outstanding arrest warrant charging him with kidnapping and other counts when the two officers encountered him at an apartment complex where a domestic dispute had been reported. But officers didn’t know whom they were dealing with when they responded to the 911 call.
After the shootings, Smith was airlifted to a hospital in Macon with critical injuries. Banks said Thursday morning the wounded officer remained in critical condition after undergoing surgery.
Fellow officers who knew them weren’t surprised that Smith, who worked on a college campus near the shooting scene, went to assist Smarr when he was dispatched to a domestic dispute call at an apartment complex. The two men had been lifelong friends.
“They’ve been close friends since grade school,” said Lt. Chuck Hanks of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, where both officers had previously worked as deputies. Hanks said the two men were still roommates, sharing a home in the county.
Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith told reporters both officers were engaged to be married in the coming months.
“It’s tough,” Hanks said. “We’re a small community. You see these people every day. You work with them every day.”
Authorities initially gave different spellings for the first names of both Smith and Lembrick, but said Thursday that they had confirmed corrected spellings for each.
Within an hour of the shootings Wednesday, posts on Lembrick’s Facebook page appeared to indicate he didn’t want to be taken alive. One message posted from the account read: “other life gone not going to jail.”
It was soon followed by a four-second Facebook Live video showing a young man partly concealed by shadows saying, “I’m gonna miss y’all folk, man.”
Miles with the GBI confirmed the Facebook page was Lembrick’s. It was taken down soon after the messages were posted.
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