Officer involved shootings increased this year
On Dec. 16, two Bartow County deputies executing a warrant for armed robbery suspect Jeremy Starr Prather were involved in a shooting, which resulted in the death of 34-year-old Holli Gooch. The shooting happened at 3 Lee St. and was the third fatal officer-involved shooting in 2010.
According to Sheriff Clark Millsap, upon the deputies' arrival, Prather went out the back and Gooch allegedly began attacking a deputy with a hammer, injuring one officer's hand. After Gooch allegedly refused to cease the attack, the deputy drew his service weapon and discharged the firearm. An officer behind him also fired.
"They did what they had to do. It's very unfortunate, it's a tragedy really," Millsap said. "She had ability, opportunity and jeopardy...The officers didn't have a choice."
The deputies, who have not been identified, remain on administrative leave, pending the results of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigation.
Prather was the target of a manhunt that involved BCSO deputies, Cartersville police and K-9 units. He was captured later at McDonalds on Highway 113.
In March, a 27-year-old was shot and killed by a Bartow County deputy. According Sheriff Millsap, Wesley Alan Doyle was shot during a foot chase when he turned on the deputy with a pistol in his hand.
Doyle had recently been released from a detention center in Cedartown. "As far as we can tell he was running because he didn't want to go back to jail," Millsap said.
According to incident reports, dispatchers received several 911 calls about a man matching Doyle's description. Deputies were notified a man was walking along Highway 113, allegedly jumping in front of cars.
The deputy spotted Doyle standing in front of Lakeview Court. When the deputy instructed him to stop, Doyle fled on foot. As he ran, Doyle allegedly dropped a black object and began to slow. Doyle tried to cross a creek bank, landing in the middle. He then turned, pointing a black semiautomatic handgun at the deputy.
"I yelled 'gun' very loudly and stepped to my left, behind a small tree, drawing my departmental issued firearm as I did so," the deputy wrote in his report. "As I cleared the tree the male was pulling the gun into his chest and it was still pointed at me. I then fired my weapon several times at the male."
Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton said Doyle died at the scene. His body was sent to the GBI for an autopsy. The deputy was placed on routine paid administrative leave and offered counseling.
Cartersville Police Department was also involved in a fatal incident in November at Schnitzer Recycling. A man that was involved in a burglary was shot and killed by a police officer after allegedly attacking one of the officers responding to the incident.
The man was later identified as Joseph Adam Bowlen. According to Chief Thomas Culpepper, the officers responded to the scene about 11:30 p.m. As they arrived, they encountered Bowlen and Steven Haynes Clark. Clark attempted to flee the scene but was apprehended while Bowlen attacked one of the responding officers.
The officer shot Bowlen, who was transported by life flight to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Clark was charged with forced entry, burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime and misdemeanor obstruction of an officer. The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Culpepper said earlier this week the officer involved in the shooting is back at work and the case hasn't officially been closed. He said the department is waiting on the GBI to send its findings to the District Attorney's office for review.
"We don't anticipate that there's anything that's going to be done out of that as far as seeking any kind of prosecution for any kind of wrongdoing. What we have been advised by the GBI is that they see no problem with it based on the circumstances that it appears to be a reasonable use of force," Culpepper said.
He said the officer believed her life was in jeopardy and responded appropriately. "That's my belief and that's the summation of what the GBI report is anticipated to say. We don't anticipate the DA's office seeing it any differently," he said.
Cartersville Assistant Chief of Police Frank McCann said there has been two officer involved accidents in the last five years for the city, including the one this year.
He said there was one about four years ago where an officer went to a hotel to serve a warrant and got in a struggle with the suspect. McCann said the suspect took the officer's taser striking him in the foot. The suspect was shot in the stomach but survived.
McCann said when an officer is involved in a shooting, fatal or not, they are placed on administrative leave. "There is an internal investigation to ensure policy was followed."
He said the GBI also investigates. The officer is also sent to a psychologist to be evaluated.
As for the increase in officer involved shootings, Culpepper said there is a factor that he has believed for several years. "We are a meaner society, and we're a far more selfish society."
Attempts to speak with Bartow County Sheriff's Office officials went unanswered.
Cartersville under water
In just one hour heavy rains flooded the city July 18, leaving 5 inches of rain and thousands of dollars in damage to homes and businesses.
Initial reports following the rain storm said the city suffered at least $50,000 in damages. The week following the flood the Cartersville City Council unanimously approved an expenditure for help cleaning up the city.
Public Works Director Bobby Elliot the city's drainage system is not designed to handle a weather event of that magnitude. Most of the flooding was concentrated on the west side of the city and downtown along the railroad tracks.
"The issue with this particular basin as compared to all the others in the city, the area is so flat it takes water a long time to get out. In other words, the steeper, the faster, the shallower, the slower," Elliot said. "When we have a really large rain and the two channels start to contribute to the main channel, it's so flat it starts to back up because it can't get out fast enough and that's been the case forever."
Five months after the flood, city manager Sam Grove said problems continue to be worked on. He said the damage the rain caused was "extreme and excessive."
Grove said repairs have been made on the railroad ditch, Granger Hill ditch and the area near the intersection of Lee and Etowah. He said work will continue in those areas.
He added funds are available. "Everyone pays maintenance, storm and structure fee," Grove said. He said the money is on the utility bill and goes for construction in case of situations like the July flooding.
In addition to the city being hit hard from the flood, businesses also took a major blow. One was Hobby Lobby, with the heavy rain causing a partial roof collapse. Because the store is not open for business on Sundays, no one was injured.
The store reopened on Oct. 1 after being closed for 12 weeks of repair.
"The increase was phenomenal. Since opening, it was far better than expected," store manager Steve Lehman said this week.
He said it didn't make up for missing 12 weeks of business, but it was close.
The exact cost of damages is still being determined by auditors, Lehman said.
CSX train derails in Cartersville
On Nov. 5, a CSX train transporting corn derailed near Cloverleaf Elementary School on West Felton Road. The accident happened shortly after 10 a.m.
No one was hurt in the accident, which derailed 22 cars from the train that originated in Flint, Mich.
Portions of West Felton Road remained closed the day after the derailment. The accident didn't involve any hazardous materials or chemicals, which was a relief to officials.
"Thank goodness there were no hazards, other than cars derailing," Capt. Colleen Cochran with the Bartow Fire Department said.
Dwayne Jamison, Bartow County Fire Department division for special operations, was also on the scene. "Our biggest concern is security and keeping the public away (from the scene) because the train cars are unstable right now."
West Felton Road was closed on and off during the weekend to allow trucks to carry the grain away. CSX officials on site that the removal of the debris would continue for a couple days with the process requiring road closures periodically.
Calls to CSX to obtain a cause for the derailment were not returned.
Adairsville target of multiple bank robberies
An Atlanta area man who robbed two banks within a week said he needed the money.
Craig Robinson was arrested in early September after a high-speed chase that ended in Cartersville. He was accused of an armed hold-up of Bank of the Ozarks in Adairsville and BB&T on Ga. 53 in Calhoun. Both occurred within five days.
Robinson was apprehended on Interstate 75 southbound. A Bartow County deputy who joined the pursuit said Robinson's vehicle attempted to strike several patrol cars, reached speeds of 110 mph and ran numerous vehicles off the road.
The chase came to an end when four patrol cars attempted to box in Robinson's vehicle, but he swerved, struck a Georgia State Patrol trooper's car, spun out, traveling down an embankment on I-75 at Ga. Highway 20. Robinson complained of bank pain and was taken to the hospital via ambulance.
Adairsville Police Department Capt. Ronnie Raines said Robinson used a handwritten note to demand case during the Calhoun bank robbery.
"He (stated) in the interview that he decided to come to north Georgia to rob the banks," Raines said. "He said he needed the money...He said there's just no jobs out here. That was the biggest thing he told us."
Weeks after Robinson's arrest a Decatur area man was arrested after authorities searched for him for two hours. The manhunt for Darricus Terrell Turner, 28, drew area law enforcement officers and a police helicopter to a wooded area off Ga. 20.
Turner walked into Renasant Bank in Adairsville wearing a mask. He allegedly held two tellers at gunpoint while they emptied their cash drawers. Adairsville police Lt. Robert Jones said Turner cased the bank earlier that day. A witness reported seeing Turner's older model gold Mercedes Benz driving around the bank.
"He actually pulled the car up to the bank and jumped out of the car and went in and robbed it," Jones said.
With witness descriptions of the vehicle, authorities issued a "be on the lookout." Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies went straight to [Interstate] 75 spotted the car in a southbound lane and the chase ensued, reaching speeds of more than 100 mph.
The vehicle exited the interstate at Ga. 20 and continued down a dirt road. Turner then allegedly fled on foot at the end of the gravel road, leaving the firearm and money inside the car. Deputies searching the woods on the Rollins property spotted Turner on foot, tracked him and made the arrest.
Deputies charged Turner with felony fleeing or attempting to elude an officer. According to the BCSO incident report, Atlanta police had outstanding warrants on Turner for other "forcible" felonies, including aggravated assault, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Following the Adairsville robberies, Cartersville Police Chief Tommy Culpepper and Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap increased patrols in high-crime areas to deal with the possibility of robbery crimes happening in their jurisdictions.
Gang violence turns fatal
Deputy District Attorney Mickey Thacker said three men arrested in connection with a March gang shooting that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Norman Moore Jr. are in jail awaiting trial.
Moore was found around 9:20 on the night of March 13 lying in front of 44 Middlebrook Drive. Two teens, Dedric Deshon Jackson, 18, and Demetrius Matavlo Castle, 17, were arrested and charged with murder. A third teen, Leondris Tyree Jackson, 14, was arrested at a later date in connection with the murder.
According to authorities, Moore had traveled to Middlebrook Drive where a birthday party at the home of Jackson's relative was going on.
"As (Moore's group) was turning to leave there was some kind of argument with someone at the party. Then the alleged victim got into a fight with some and (Leondris Jackson) allegedly shot him," Criminal Investigation Division Commander Maj. Doug Duncan said.
Authorities say the teens have ties to Louisiana and an alleged gang called Bottom Boyz Survivors, or BBS.
The victim, who suffered two gunshot wounds one each to the chest and arm, was a suspected 52nd Street Hoover Gangsta Crip gang member, Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said. He said that information was determined through interviews with Moore's friends and witnesses of the shooting.
Thacker said the trail is not scheduled to start anytime soon. "It's still in the early stages," Thacker said. He said the attorneys for the accused are filing motions.
"It's a murder case, so it's top of the line as far as seriousness," Thacker said.
- Former crime reporter Brande Poulnot contributed to this story.