‘We lost two great deputies’: Two suspects arrested after fatal shootings in Cobb

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Deputies Jonathan Randall Koleski and Marshall Samual Ervin Jr. were serving an arrest warrant in a quiet Cobb County neighborhood Thursday night when they were fatally shot by a man living at the home.

At an emotional news conference Friday afternoon, law enforcement officials said the deputies were attempting to arrest Christopher James Cook Jr. when Christopher Patrick Golden opened fire from inside the house. Cook and Golden were taken into custody late Thursday and denied bond during their first court appearances.

Golden, 30, was booked into the Cobb jail on two counts each of felony murder and aggravated assault. Cook, 32, was being held on six theft charges from arrest warrants dating back to June, records showed. Cook was not charged in connection with the fatal shootings of the deputies.

Sheriff Craig Owens, surrounded by law enforcement officials from Cobb and metro Atlanta, sat inside a Magistrate Courtroom on the bottom floor of the jail Friday while the suspects went through their first appearance hearing.

“I wanted to see the individuals who committed this heinous act against my deputies and I wanted to look them in the eyes,” Owens said.

On Friday, overwhelming grief gripped residents and law enforcement alike as investigators attempted to piece together the string of events.

“We lost two great deputies,” Owens told a room full of reporters and county officials at the sheriff’s office. “These were outstanding men. Men of character and integrity, loved by their families and their kids.”

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Koleski was 42 and Ervin was 38, Owens said. Both were married and had been employed with the sheriff’s office for many years. Koleski had been with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office since his law enforcement career began in 2007. Ervin, a father of two, had been with the sheriff’s office since his law enforcement career began in 2012.

Owens initially said the deputies were ambushed while returning to their patrol vehicles after knocking on the door and finding no answer. On Friday, officials clarified that the alleged gunman fired on the pair from inside the home. There was an exchange of gunfire, Cobb police Chief Stuart VanHoozer told reporters, but it wasn’t immediately clear if both deputies fired their weapons.

Explore5 Georgia officers killed in the line of duty in 2022

VanHoozer, whose is agency is leading the investigation into the deputies’ slayings, said both suspects lived at the Hampton Glen home in west Cobb. Cook had three outstanding warrants from this year, according to court records.

Credit: Chart Riggall / Marietta Daily Journal

Credit: Chart Riggall / Marietta Daily Journal

On Feb. 1, he allegedly sold several pieces of stolen jewelry, including a ring, bracelet and necklace, to a pawn shop, his arrest warrant states. An arrest warrant was issued for Cook on April 11 charging him with three counts of theft by receiving stolen property, all felonies, and three misdemeanor theft offenses.

In June, two additional arrest warrants were issued for Cook, charging him with two misdemeanor theft counts, records show.

“Said accused conducted a pawn transaction in which he received $350 cash in exchange for a 10 Kt white gold pendant chain which was property reported stolen in Cobb County … in which he was identified as the suspect who stole the property on or about 2/28/2022,” the warrant states.

Credit: Chart Riggall / Marietta Daily Journal

Credit: Chart Riggall / Marietta Daily Journal

In 2019, Cook and Golden were co-defendants in a misdemeanor theft case, according to court records. In April of that year, the two were accused of stealing an iPad and tools and selling the items at a pawn shop, arrest warrants state. The case remains open, according to magistrate court records.

On Thursday, only Cook and Golden were at the home, authorities said.

Neighbors walking through the west Cobb subdivision were still stunned Friday as they strolled past the house where the two deputies were killed.

Several of the home’s upstairs windows appeared to have been shattered and the left garage door was completely gone. Also missing was a large window in the front of the house, giving neighbors and onlookers a clear view into the family’s dining room.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Dana Payne, who has lived in the typically quiet subdivision for 23 years.

She and her husband, a retired Atlanta police officer, were leaving to run a few errands at about 8 p.m. Thursday when they saw dozens of police cars speeding into the neighborhood with their lights and sirens blaring.

Some officers ran down the street telling people to stay inside their homes, said Payne, who walked her dog, Rylo, past the damaged home Friday.

”We knew it was something serious,” she said. “It’s really sad. It’s sad for the family of the person who shot them and it’s sad for the deputies’ families. They were just doing their job.”

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com

Payne said she and her husband raised their two children in the neighborhood and that nothing like this has ever happened there.

“It’s a great place to raise a family,” she said. “It’s a perfect neighborhood, really.”

Doug Cunningham, who runs a trauma remediation business, spent the morning cleaning up the badly damaged home. Cunningham said he is a former FBI agent who lived in the subdivision in the early 1990s. He said his son used to play with an elementary school classmate who lived in the house.

“I feel so bad for the families of those deputies,” said Cunningham, who removed entire patches of blood-stained grass from the front yard. “It’s just senseless.”

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

The two deputies were the fourth and fifth Georgia law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty this year.

Owens said the agency has received an outpouring of support from police departments across the country and world. Owens said the agency is “heartbroken” about the fatal shooting but still understand the responsibility they bear.

“It’s tremendously hard for us to (go back to work), I’ll admit that, but my men and women that work at the sheriff’s office are up to the challenge,” Owens said about the message he sent to his deputies Friday. “We have a job we still must continue to do even though this unfortunate incident hit our family.”

He said his office is still working on figuring out how to honor the slain deputies and will be consulting their loved ones about funeral arrangements. The Cobb Sheriff’s Office Foundation is also raising funds for the deputies’ families.


5 Georgia officers killed this year in the line of duty

Five Georgia law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2022. Eight officers were killed while serving in 2021.

One other officer has died this year from COVID-19 complications, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths of law enforcement officers. A Fairburn officer was also killed in an off-duty crash.

March 30: Investigator Donald Richard Crooms with the Houston County District Attorney’s Office was killed in a car crash. An oncoming vehicle crossed the center line and struck Investigator Crooms’ vehicle head-on in Warner Robins, according to police.

May 11: Rockdale County Sheriff’s deputy Walter Jenkins died after being hit by a vehicle while directing traffic. Jenkins, 54, who was in uniform and wearing a reflective vest, was struck by a silver Kia Sportage.

July 31: Spalding County Deputy Jamie Reynolds died after a large pine tree fell on his vehicle while he was driving, the sheriff’s office announced.

Thursday: Two Cobb County deputies, Jonathan Randall Koleski and Marshall Samuel Irvin Jr., were killed while serving an arrest warrant, according to the sheriff’s office.