James Wynn (left), William Patterson (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Byron police officers recovering after close-range shotgun blasts

Two Byron police officers are recovering Tuesday after being wounded by close-range shotgun fire during a drug raid.

James Wynn, a four-year veteran of the force, was seriously injured and underwent surgery Monday. A suspect opened fire during the incident, striking Wynn and William Patterson.

“(Wynn) is still in the hospital but is expected to make a full recovery,” Lt. Bryan Hunter said Tuesday.

Patterson, who joined the Byron Police Department two months ago, was treated at a hospital and released Monday.

The officers were part of the Peach County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team, which includes Peach County deputies as well as Byron and Fort Valley officers.

The Byron police chief and SWAT commander spoke exclusively to Channel 2's Mark Winne about the shooting that injured two officers during a drug raid.
Video: www.accessatlanta.com

Five officers went into the house in Fort Valley, while three officers guarded the perimeter, GBI spokesman J.T. Ricketson previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A man hiding in one of the rooms fired at least one round that struck Wynn and Patterson, Ricketson said. That suspect was shot to death in front of his girlfriend and a baby.

Byron police Capt. Bill Lavender told Channel 2 Action News he was there when the shooting started.

“You hear the gunfire and it subsides and you see the smoke from the gunpowder rise out the door and then you hear your officers screaming they’re hurt or they’re down,” Lavender told Channel 2. “The emotions hit you, but your training overrides. You want to get your people out and get them help as quickly as possible.”

Lavender said he knows he couldn’t have done anything differently and this was the first time in their history that officers were hurt during a SWAT operation.

Chief Wesley Cannon described the event as the call he’d been fearing his entire 16 years as Byron’s police chief.

“Your first thought is you just pray to God they’re OK,” Cannon told Channel 2. “And I do pray to God all the time for their safety.”

Cannon stayed with Wynn and his family as the officer underwent surgery Monday.

“I wanted to see him for myself,” Cannon said. “I wanted to make sure he was OK with my own eyes. And I wanted to pray with him. And I wanted to tell him I loved him.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.