Hundreds of mourners have traveled to the Locust Grove police department since Officer Chase Maddox, 26, lost his life Friday morning in the line of duty.
He is the first officer killed in the city’s 124-year history.
“We know he was doing what he loved. And for that we are forever grateful,” the family said in a statement read aloud to hundreds of community members and Metro Atlanta first responders at a vigil Saturday outside the police department. The statement was read aloud by Chief Jesse Patton.
Maddox leaves behind his wife Alex, a young son, and another unborn son set to be delivered in a matter of days. His tearful wife held a yellow rose while law enforcement led the crowd in prayer.
Friday morning, Officer Chase Maddox, a nearly 5-year veteran of the force, had met up with two Henry County Deputies Michael D. Corley and Ralph Sidwell “Sid” Callaway at a home on St. Francis Court after receiving a call for backup. The deputies were trying to serve a warrant for failure to appear on an individual.
“You never know when you’re going to take somebody into custody, what kind of response you’re going to get, but what we can, uh, what our information is, is that it was obvious that the individual was not going to go,” said Henry County Sheriff Keith McBayer.
The officer and two deputies were inside the home when investigators said an altercation broke out.
“I heard like, it sounded like firecrackers going off and you know, I didn’t think much of it,” said Kiera Mirabal, a teenager who was being homeschooled at the time of the shooting. “There was like cop cars zooming up and down the street and my sister was like ‘There’s cop cars’ and we were just like ‘Wait, what?’ and we came outside and then it just escalated really quickly. And we found out there was shooting and there were officers running down the street to the house and like, it was just like crazy.”
Henry County Sheriff Keith McBayer said all three law enforcement officers were immediately rushed to an area hospital.
Saturday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Officer Maddox was struck three times with a fatal blow to the head; the deputies were hit on their bodies.
“Both sheriff’s deputies had on bulletproof vests. One that is in fair condition [Corley], the round hit the vest. The one that is in surgery [Callaway], the round went in maybe two inches below the vest into his stomach,” said Sheriff McBayer responding to a question from FOX 5’s Morse Diggs during a press conference.
“It just saddens me, and it’s scary, it’s scary,” Felicia Glover who lives in the Hawthorne at Linden Park subdivision, where the deadly shooting took place, told FOX 5’s Patty Pan. “I’m saddened. it’s a very quiet neighborhood.”
“The three of them need prayer and all we can do is lift them up and let God take care of them,” Wade Corley, brother of Deputy Corley, told Christy Hutchings with the New Talk 106.7. Corley had not yet heard the news one of the officers was killed.
Officer Maddox, who was just 26, is described by those who knew him best as an exceptional law enforcement officer who enjoyed what he did. Fellow officers also remember him as a family man who was even expecting a new addition to his family in just a few days. One officer, who did not want to give his name, said that “everybody loved him.”
The community paid their respects throughout the weekend, as residents brought blue balloons, flowers, cards, pizza, and coffee to officers at the Locust Grove police department.
“Genuine person would be the best answer I can give. He always cared about what’s going on in your life,” said friend Savannah Gardner.
“When we had some bad people that came to our life and tried to hurt us, we had officers respond and he was one of the responding officers. He was very sweet and very nice,” said resident Megan Browing, who said Officer Maddox personally helped her on a police call and would even check on her welfare, in months to come.
“He cared about his job, he cared about his community, he cared about the people around him,” she said.
Dozens of people from Turning Point Church held a prayer vigil in front of the police department, praying for Maddox’s family and the safety of other officers in the city and around the country.
“I don’t know what’s going on in our country– but all of a sudden, the boys in blue have targets on their backs,” said a tearful Norris Howell, who knew Officer Maddox and attends church with his family.
Chief Patton said Toyota of McDonough is accepting donations for a special vehicle to accommodate the needs of their young son. The public can call the police department with inquiries on any other donations.
At Atlanta Medical Center, police escorts were seen all day bringing loved ones to the hospital. Wade Corley was among those seen running to see his brother.
“I had both of his boys with me today, so when I got the call, it was bad,” Wade Corley said.
Corley, a pastor, offered the advice on the only thing the community can really do immediately a tragedy like this.
“I just got to lay hands on him a while ago, so, but just pray for these families. There’s a lot going on right now, a lot going on in there, but just pray with them,” said Wade Corley.
He said his brother, who was released from the hospital late Friday night, was stunned.
“He really didn’t have time to process what had happened. Being shot is a whole different thing. This is his first time he’s ever had to encounter something like this,” the pastor said.
Wade Corley wanted to make sure the medical staff got the proper praise they deserved as well. That same medical staff was still caring for Deputy Callaway following his surgery.
Callaway is now in stable condition, but loved ones said off-camera, he has a long road to recovery. As loved ones pray by his bedside, they ask for prayers from the public for healing.
Meanwhile, the man the three law enforcement officers were trying to take into custody was identified by the GBI as 39-year-old Tierra Guthrie, who was wanted for failure to appear in court regarding traffic violations. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the GBI said Saturday, he was struck four times by gunfire. Only very few details were released about Guthrie on Friday and it still is not known why he resisted.
GBI agents, along with several law enforcement agencies, spent Friday evening combing on scene combing over the scene, logging evidence, and documenting the rental property where the shooting occurred.
The home where the shooting occurred is located less than a mile from Locust Grove Elementary School which was placed on lockdown as a precaution immediately following the shooting.
Maddox is the ninth officer shot and killed in the line of duty this year. In 2017, 46 officers were killed, including six in Georgia.