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Officer shot by Hood released from hospital

5:08 PM, Mar 28, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Slain officer's father forgives Hood and trusts the courts

  • Athens Senior Police Officer Tony Howard (Athens Banner Herald)
  • A shattered window on an Athens-Clarke Police cruiser (Athens Banner Herald)
  • Athens-Clarke County Senior Police Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian (ACCPD)
  • A shirtless image of Jamie Hood, showing his tattoos.
  • Jamie Hood (Courtesy Athens-Clarke County Sheriff's Office)
  • Accused cop killer Jamie Hood was taken into custody by SWAT teams Friday night.
  • Jamie Hood was taken into custody late Friday night.
  • Police have released a composite sketch of what Jamie Hood looks like with hair.
    

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Senior Police Officer Tony Howard, who was shot by accused cop killer Jamie Hood, has been released from the hospital.

He'll now recouperate at home.
 
This is while Hood is now being investigated in the death of another county employee. Kenneth Wray was shot to death outside his home on December 28.  

Athens-Clarke County Police said Monday morning, "Hood is being investigated as a possible suspect in the other murder."

Hood is being held at the Irwin County Jail in Ocilla, Ga., charged with the shooting death of officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian and shooting Howard last Tuesday. Hood was initially held in Hall County.

According to Athens-Clarke County Sheriff's spokesman Capt. E. Pozen, Hood has waived his first appearance in court. The next step would be a prelimary hearing according to the the Athens-Clarke County Magistrate's Court. 

After a four-day manhunt, the 33-year-old emerged shirtless and unarmed from a North Athens home late Friday, along with several hostages. 

He was taken into custody by SWAT teams just after 11 p.m. and escorted to a police cruiser by GBI Director Vernon Keenan.

Hood surrendered after a long and tense evening of negotiations with local, state and federal authorities.

The surrender played out on live television. At the request of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 11Alive Photojournalist Tyson Paul and Reporter Doug Richards documented Hood's peaceful and orderly surrender.

Though the surrender was covered during 11Alive's 11 p.m. newscast, it was shown on a live delay in the interest of television ethics. At all times, our crews were kept at a safe distance.

After Hood's capture, the father of slain police officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian told 11Alive's Jon Shirek, "I think everyone in Georgia will be able to sleep better tonight."

GBI Director Keenan had made a statement earlier in the evening, directing his comments to Hood, who investigators said was watching coverage on television. Keenan had promised that Hood would not be harmed if he surrendered unarmed.

"This is to Mr. Jamie Hood. If you come out unarmed, I pledge to you that you will not be harmed," Keenan said.

GBI officials had said earlier in the evening that the situation was tense, and that they were working to secure the release of eight hostages being held by Hood, as well as the safe surrender of Hood.

Four of the hostages -- two adults and two children -- were released at about 9 p.m., prompting Keenan's televised statement to Hood. The remaining hostages were released with his surrender.

A brother of one of the hostages told 11Alive News reporter Jerry Carnes that Hood was friends with everyone there, and that he did not believe that Hood would harm them.

One hostage, Quenton Rider, 29, said that he had sent text messages to his family while he was with Hood, telling them that he loved them, and that he was scared.

"Law enforcement killed his brother back in the day, and he said he just wanted them to see how it felt to lose one," Rider said after his release. Tim Hood was killed in a standoff with Athens-Clarke County police a decade ago. "But he didn't mean no harm to the officer that he killed, but he's just saying that the police killed his brother."

"I regret killing that officer," Hood said after his surrender. "That innocent officer didn't deserve that. I regret that."

Authorities tracked Hood down Friday after he contacted his mother Azalee Hood, telling her that he was ready to surrender to police.

Azalee also contacted 11Alive's Jerry Carnes, notifying him that her son was ready to turn himself in.

"He said he's gonna turn his self in today," Azalee said to Carnes. "He said he's tired of it."

Earlier in the day Friday, police tried using social media to reach out to Hood, posting a message on the Athens-Clarke County Police Department's Facebook page:

"Several friends and family members of [Jamie] Hood have told investigators that Mr. Hood would turn himself in, but he fears that law enforcement will kill him instead of allowing him to turn himself in. This is simply not the case. All of the law enforcement agencies searching for Mr. Hood are trained to use deadly force only in response to life threatening resistence. [Jamie] Hood can arrange to turn himself in without fear of bodily harm by simply calling 9-1-1 or 706-546-5900."

TIMELINE: Tracking the Manhunt for Jamie Hood

Hood is accused of shooting two officers Tuesday -- killing Senior Police Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian and wounding Senior Police Officer Tony Howard.

"We believe he's receiving assistance from some associates," Vernon Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said Thursday. "Who they are, we do not know."

Investigators had hoped a $50,000 reward will inspire someone to lead them to Hood. "He is a career criminal, and his associates operate in the criminal world," Keenan said. "We're hoping one of them will come forward."

The four-day manhunt for Hood focused on a number of homes, businesses and wooded areas throughout the Athens area, based on a flurry of what authorities called "credible tips." Each tip sent a battalion of heavily armed law enforcement officers swarming to the location.

Howard and Christian were on the lookout for Hood in connection with a carjacking and kidnapping when they stopped him near his West Athens apartment at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on Sycamore Drive near Broad Street and Atlanta Highway. Police said Hood opened fire, hitting Howard twice and fatally shooting Christian while he was still in his patrol car.

"He should be considered as extremely dangerous," said Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin. "Anyone who would shoot down police officers who are trying to do their jobs, particularly trying to shoot them in a manner that he did, from essentially an ambush situation."

"Two fine outstanding young men, two fine young men who have devoted their lives to service others, two good hearted people," the police chief said. "Buddy, as we called Elmer Christian, has been with us for eight years and was the epitome of a good person, just a great person. He loved to help people. He had a sincere heart of helping and assisting citizens. Tony Howard, another senior officer who was shot, he has been with our police department since 1993. He is known as an individual who stays out of the car, interacting and interfacing with citizens in trying to solve problems."

Howard is expected to recover from his injuries. Christian was declared dead at a local hospital, leaving behind his wife, a son and a daughter.

In an emotional interview with 11Alive News' Jerry Carnes, the parents of Buddy Christian said their son viewed his job as a calling. Through their grief, they said they were ready to offer forgiveness to their son's killer. "The Bible says 'vengeance is mine says the Lord,'" Officer Christian's father Bud Christian said. "We don't want revenge. We want justice."

Christian will be laid to rest this weekend. An open visitation will be held at Bernstein Funeral Home at 4 p.m. Saturday. Christian's funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Classic Center in Athens. The service is expected to last an hour.

"Citizens are asked to line the roadway from downtown to the cemetery in honor of SPO Christian," said a statement from Athens-Clarke County Police." The procession will travel west on Broad Street to Evergreen Memorial Park, 3655 Atlanta Hwy."

Late Thursday, following a tip, officers canvassed a neighborhood in a house-by-house search for Christian's accused killer.

Neighbors like Jennifer Cunningham were on edge for days. "Stuck in the house, have my doors locked," she said. "That's about it. 

Since Wednesday afternoon, Hood's photo and description were shown on electronic billboards across the state of Georgia. The search for Hood was expanded to the entire country, but investigators believed he was staying close by, possibly in the woods near his family's home in Athens.

"They say he killed that officer -- that's wrong. I feel sorry for their family, " Hood's mother Azalee Hood told 11Alive News. "I'm begging Jamie to turn himself in."

Hood's brother Steven Hood echoed that sentiment. "I want to tell my brother turn himself in. It's running for no reason," he said. "We worried about you man. We don't want nobody to kill you, shoot you for no reason when you could just turn yourself in."

"God says you're gonna reap what you sow," Hood's father Robert Hood said. "So if he did it, he's gotta reap. I believe in God."

As part of the investigation Wednesday, Athens-Clarke County Police questioned Jamie Hood's nephew, "Little Hood," in connection with Jamie's whereabouts. The exact nature and context of the conversation was not divulged by authorities.

Jamie Hood is no stranger to law enforcement. He was released from Macon State Prison in 2009 after serving 11 years of a 12-year sentence for armed robbery. 

During the initial manhunt for Hood Tuesday afternoon, Clarke County school officials placed their schools on a "soft lockdown." According to spokesperson Anisa Jimenez, in a soft lockdown situation, no one is allowed outside the building, but activities inside the school building continue as normal. The schools were later dismissed normally, but the ongoing manhunt forced officials to cancel all after-school and evening activities.

(The Athens Banner Herald contributed to this article)

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