After 9 days, cops track down man wanted in Henry detention officer’s shooting

A man accused of shooting a Henry County detention officer five times and killing another man jumped from motel to motel throughout the South over a nine-day period as he tried to avoid arrest, but his quest ended Sunday afternoon when law enforcement finally caught up with him in Macon.

Brentson Bernard Thomas, 32, allegedly shot the detention officer in the chest, critically injuring him Nov. 4 at an apartment complex near McDonough. The officer, whose name was not released, was said to be “progressing very well” by Monday morning, Henry County Sheriff Reginald Scandrett told reporters at a news conference.

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The other shooting victim was identified by his family as 33-year-old Michael Brown, who worked at the Haddon Place apartments off Willow Lane where he was killed. It is still unclear if he was fatally shot before or after the officer was injured, as officials have not released many details about what sparked the shooting.

According to his family, Brown and the detention officer were friends, and Thomas was a new acquaintance. Thomas is now facing charges of murder and aggravated assault and is being held in the Henry County Jail.

“The guy was trying to be friends with him, trying to hang out with him,” Syeelah Stoessel, Brown’s sister, said in an interview with Channel 2 Action News. “That’s what’s confusing. How can you go from wanting to hang out with him to wanting to kill him?”

Authorities tracked Thomas as he moved “all up and down (I-75) down into South Georgia (and) Florida,” Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said.

“We were tracking him all over the South,” said John Stevens, a chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service. “We knew where he was. We were just looking for the right time (to make the arrest).”

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Officials would not go into detail about how Thomas was apprehended at an Econo Lodge hotel in Bibb County, saying that would give away the tactics they use to apprehend fugitives. But Scandrett said, “This is good, old-fashioned police work.”

“We want to make sure that every move that is made, we know something about it until we get to the point that we can do what we call (casting) our net. Our net is to make sure we bring you into custody appropriately as quick as possible,” he added.

Two of the three people who are accused of helping Thomas evade arrest, Lashonda Lay and Joseph Kimber, have also been arrested. The third, 29-year-old Dimarie Coulter, remains at large, Scandrett said. She is being sought on a felony charge of hindering the apprehension of a fugitive.

“When it’s one of our folks that’s been injured — and even a member of the public, as there was another victim involved in this case — we’re going to track you down. We’re going to find you. We’re going to bring you to justice,” Davis said.

Brown’s family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses, which has surpassed its initial $10,000 goal. His sister said his death has shaken their family to its core.

“He was a loving son, a protective brother, a supportive cousin, and a funny friend,” Stoessel said on the fundraising site. “He was truly loved by so many people and his absence has left an emptiness in our hearts.”

— Staff writer Chelsea Prince contributed to this article.