Deputies shot at a 33-year-old man who they believed had pulled a gun on them in a Spalding County park, but officials say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The man turned a gun on himself while sitting in his truck about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to the GBI, the agency investigating the incident.
Deputies David Porter and Nicholas Gatlin arrived at Wyomia Tyus Olympic Park on a report of a suicidal man with a gun there, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in a statement. AJC.com typically does not identify victims of suicide.
The deputies approached the man’s truck from the back and started clearing the parking lot of civilians, Miles said.
“As they were instructing civilians to get out of the area, Deputies Porter and Gatlin heard a single gunshot coming from (the man)’s truck,” she said.
At first, the deputies thought he had shot at them and returned fire. The man was hit once by the deputies’ gunfire.
Officials determined the gunshot wound that killed the man was self-inflicted. The Spalding County coroner pronounced him dead at the scene.
Sheriff Darrell Dix said the circumstances forced the deputies to “make a split-second decision, contain the incident, and protect the people in the park and themselves.”
“We always want to make the attempt to de-escalate these situations, however in incidents such as what these Deputies faced last night, the suspect did not allow that to happen,” he said.
No one else was injured during the incident, Miles said.
So far this year, the agency has opened 51 officer-involved shooting investigations. The Spalding County incident is the second such investigation this week.
According to the GBI, Walker County deputies exchanged gunfire with a man Sunday night after responding to a domestic call at a home on Claire Street in Rossville, which is located just south of the Georgia-Tennessee line.
Sgt. Thomas Agredano was treated and released from the hospital, but the suspect, identified by the GBI as 47-year-old Travis Thomas of Chickamauga, was in critical condition Monday morning, officials said.
In 2018, the GBI investigated 95 officer-involved shootings, including 53 fatal incidents. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don't involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI's tally.
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