The man believed responsible for killing a Locust Grove police officer may have been a member of a separatist movement that does not recognize government authority in things like laws and taxes, the GBI said Monday.
Tierre Guthrie could have been a so-called sovereign citizen or a member of the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors — a black separatist group founded in Georgia in 1970, Scott Dutton, deputy director of the GBI, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sovereign citizens believe that governments operate illegally and that they get to decide which laws to obey, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit group which monitors hate groups and other extremists.
A neighbor reported that Guthrie had espoused a belief in “Moorism,” a religious organization founded on the premise that African-Americans are descended from the Moorish Empire and thus are Moors by nationality.
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“It is something we are looking out to determine which, if any (he may have been involved in),” Dutton said. “There are strong indications he was affiliated with an anti-government group. It’s one of those things where these particular groups, until they violate the law, they are free to do what they want to do.”
On Friday morning, two Henry County deputies arrived at Guthrie’s rental home on St. Francis Court in Locust Grove to serve a warrant, according to police. Guthrie had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court, but deputies had no reason to believe he was violent, Sheriff Keith McBrayer said Friday.
Guthrie failed to appear in Locust Grove municipal court on Feb. 6, three days before two deputies arrived at his home, according to his arrest warrant. On Aug. 29, he was cited for illegally parking a commercial vehicle, the warrant states.
On Friday, Guthrie allegedly became combative and pulled a gun, firing shots at the deputies and at Locust Grove Officer Chase Maddox, who was called for back-up, the GBI said. It wasn’t known Friday who fired first, but Guthrie, the deputies and Maddox were all struck. Guthrie, shot four times including twice to the chest, died at the scene, according to police. Maddox, a married father with a baby due this week, was shot in the head and died from his injuries. He was 26.
On Monday, the Locust Grove community and beyond rallied to help the Maddox family, with donations on one fundraising page topping $100,000. Donations were also being accepted at the Locust Grove police department and a fund was set up at United Community Bank. A Griffin printing business had already printed 3,000 decals Monday afternoon to honor Maddox, with all of the proceeds going to the officer’s family
“If you know Locust Grove, you’d know that’s how it is there,” business owner Destin Fuller said. “Everyone is coming together and everyone’s going to have a decal on their car.”
Fuller owns Cardinal Creations Vinyl Supply and grew up in Locust Grove, where many family members and friends still live. Fuller’s husband is a Spalding County sheriff’s deputy.
After learning of Maddox’s death, Fuller said her family went to work creating hundreds of “End of Watch” black and blue decals to sell for $2 each. At a vigil Saturday night, Fuller sold out of 800 decals. And on Monday, Fuller said family members were helping complete orders for 3,000 decals, including various law enforcement agencies who plan to honor Maddox on their patrol cars.
“This is what you do. You come together,” Fuller said. “This is what we can do and God has given us the ability to do that.”