With his fun, easygoing spirit, Terence Avery Green was not the guy his friends thought would become a police officer. But for nearly 22 years, it was Green’s career. And it suited the man who lived to help others.
“Terence was a great guy,” longtime friend Mike Burns told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just all-out great guy. Even as a police officer. He died doing what he loved: protect and serve.”
Green was on duty early Wednesday when he was killed in what the Fulton County police assistant chief called an ambush-style attack. He was 48.
Fulton Police Chief Cassandra Jones said at a Wendesday afternoon news conference poor visibility from the rain put her officers at greater when searching for the gunman who had gone on a “rampage” throughout the south Fulton County neighborhood.
Amanuel Menghesha, 32, ambushed the officers with an “assault-weapon-type” rifle, killing 48-year-old Det. Terrence Avery Green. She said it was not clear whether Menghesha had been shot by a Fulton County sheriff deputy who responded to the scene to assist.
“That is still under investigation,” she said.
The police were familiar with Menghesha. “We have been to his home before,” said Jones. They started searching for Menghesha in the neighborhood after getting more reports of gunfire, officials said.
“He seemed to go on a rampage throughout the neighborhood,” Jones said. She said alcohol had been involved in past calls to Menghesha’s house.
The shooting happened just before 1 a.m. as Green and six other officers responded to a call that shots had been fired inside a home in The Parks of Cedar Grove subdivision in south Fulton County, Fulton County spokeswoman Jolene Butts Freeman said in an emailed statement. The officers talked to the caller at the home in the 7200 block of Parks Trail, received a description of the suspect and began a search for the suspect.
The officers were immediately fired upon, and as they ran for cover, Green was shot in the back of the head, according to Channel 2 Action News.
A second officer was also hit, but the bullet struck his duty belt area, shattering his police radio but not wounding him, Fulton Chief Jones said.
Other officers returned fire, wounding the suspect Menghesha.
Menghesha was also taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, and was alert and conscious. The gravely wounded Green was also taken to Grady, where he was pronounced dead.
Wednesday afternoon, police continued to examine a crime scene that spanned about three blocks. Menghesha’s home on nearby Parks Trail was surrounded by police tape, and Stiles said police recovered the suspect’s weapon, described as a “long gun.”
“I got a call … that every police chief dreads and prays never happens,” Jones said from outside Grady Memorial Hospital early Wednesday. “I got a call that I had lost one of my officers.”
She described Green as a detective who “never met a stranger,” who as a patrolman was known for taking more time on 911 calls because he always spent more time talking to residents, she said. She noted he left four children. “His family is grieving terribly,” she said.
Jones asked that the community “please be with us and pray for us. We have to pray for all our family members, and the officer’s family members foremost.”
During his 22 years on the force, Green worked in “many divisions of the police department,” Jones said. “We’re all grieving terribly. We’re probably not handing it well, but we’re trying to stay strong.”
After graduating from the former Briarwood High School in East Point, Green attended Morris Brown College before becoming a police officer. The father of four boys is also survived by his parents and other relatives and friends, including a close-knit group from high school.
As a teenager, Green was nicknamed T-biscuit by his friends and it stuck, Burns said. Green and his friends would sometimes play basketball at Sykes Park.
“He thought he had a mean jumper,” Burns said. “He wasn’t very tall, but you couldn’t tell him he couldn’t shoot.”
Burns said he planned to visit Green’s family in the coming days to express condolences.
“We cared about Terence, and we still care about Terence,” Burns said. “And we care about them.”
Alfred Printup lives on the street where Wednesday’s shooting happened. He said that as he arrived home from work a little after midnight, police told him that there was a gunman loose in the area.
“They asked me if I could leave the area until they had him in custody,” Printup told The AJC.
“Once I left the area, I called my wife to let her know there was a gunman loose in our neighborhood, and as I was talking to her, we heard the gunfire going off,” he said. “We heard about three volleys of rounds going off at different times.”
Printup, who has lived on Chastain Way for eight years, said news of the Green’s death “broke my heart, to know that he cared enough to give his life protecting my family and my community.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the last Fulton County police officer killed in the line of duty was Aaron Jovon Blount, who was shot April 22, 2003, on a traffic stop in south Fulton’s Red Oak community. The last Fulton County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty was Hoyt Teasley, who was shot to death by Brian Nichols on March 11, 2005.
Nichols, on trial for rape, overwhelmed a deputy and burst into a courtroom, killing Fulton Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and his court reporter Julie Brandau. While escaping, Nichols shot and killed Teasley, another deputy outside the courthouse.
Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. asked the public to please make a financial contribution to assist Green’s four sons once a fund was set up. No details on the fund were available at the press conference. Commissioner Bob Ellis, a newcomer like Arrington, seconded the sentiment
“This is the most terrible of days,” said Commissioner Bob Ellis. “My heart breaks for his family….We do need to support that family, those four boys.”
County Commission Chairman John Eaves said in a statement. “This is a stark and sad reminder of the hard and dangerous work that our men and women in law enforcement embark upon every time they respond to a call.”
Staff Writer Steve Visser contributed to this story