The GBI was called to investigate an officer-involved shooting in Athens on Friday evening. Police say seven officers fired their weapons at a 34-year-old man, killing him.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

NEW DETAILS: 7 Athens officers fired weapons at man with airsoft gun

Authorities said seven Athens police officers fired their weapons during the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Grovetown man who brandished an airsoft gun Friday evening.

Police identified the man killed as Thomas Wayne Swinford.

Officers encountered Swinford on West Lake Drive just before 6:30 p.m., and he was “believed to be armed with a weapon,” Athens police spokesman Geoffrey Gilland said in a news release Friday.

RELATED: Man believed to be armed dies after being shot by Athens police

When asked to drop the gun, the man allegedly charged at police and pointed the weapon in the direction of an officer, prompting several officers at the scene to open fire, Gilland said. 

Swinford was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The GBI was called to investigate an officer-involved shooting in Athens on Friday.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

On Saturday, police identified the officers who fired at Swinford as Officer C.J. Bidinger, Officer First Class William Greenlow, Officer Claude Johnson, Cpl. Alex Leder, Sgt. Jon McIlvaine, Officer Joshua Santos and Officer Roger Williams.

The GBI announced Saturday that the weapon recovered from the scene was an airsoft gun.

Airsoft guns are modeled after firearms but typically shoot nonlethal plastic pellets.

“Swinford disregarded the officers’ commands and charged the officers with the firearm in his hand pointed in the officers’ direction,” a GBI spokeswoman said. “Multiple officers discharged their firearms, striking Swinford.”

MORE: Man killed by ICE agent had plastic gun, police say

It is the 18th officer-involved shooting the GBI has investigated this year.

Gilland said the Athens officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. 

In other news: 

It is a 1-cent sales tax referendum.

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.