Man involved in police shooting at Lake Lanier killed himself, officials say

An autopsy by the GBI found the man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
An autopsy by the GBI found the man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A hit-and-run suspect who officials said drove a stolen car into Lake Lanier shot himself shortly before the vehicle went underwater, according to an autopsy by the GBI Crime Lab.

John James Monahan Jr., 26, took his own life Feb. 21 after exchanging gunfire with Gwinnett County police from the sinking car, GBI spokeswoman Kim Williams said.

Officers began searching for Monahan about 4:15 p.m. after a wreck involving a stolen car, AJC.com previously reported.

The incident occurred at the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Shadburn Ferry Road in Buford.

Monahan, of Ellabell in Bryan County, used an AK-style rifle to carjack another driver who was involved in the wreck, authorities said.

RELATED: Man ID'd in fatal officer-involved shooting at Lake Lanier

“After the collision, the suspect fled the scene with a rifle,” Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said at the time. “There are reports that he discharged his firearm at responding officers as they tried to catch up to him.”

Officers followed him into Shoal Creek Park, where Monahan eventually drove into Lake Lanier, the release said.

That’s when he began to fire at officers, police said. A patrol car was hit several times by gunfire, but no officers were injured. Police returned fire before the car sank to the bottom with the suspect still inside.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office’s dive team found a body in the area near the vehicle, the release said.

The GBI was contacted to investigate the officer-involved shooting, which at the time was the 18th such investigation the agency had opened this year.

“The GBI will continue its independent investigation of the officer-involved shooting and homicide,” Williams said.

The results will be turned over to the Hall County District Attorney’s Office for review.

In other news: 

The teen was taken to the hospital and is expected to be OK.