$50,000 reward for Athens cop killer

 ATHENS, Ga. -- More than 100 law officers combed Clarke County for a second day Wednesday, hunting for a cop killer.

 

Ever since Senior Police Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian was gunned down and another officer seriously wounded early Tuesday afternoon, authorities have checked out tips that the prime suspect, 33-year-old Jamie Hood, may have fled Athens-Clarke.

But they believe he is more likely hiding closer to home.

"Typically, perpetrators have a local way about them," Athens-Clarke police Chief Jack Lumpkin said.

Authorities held out hopes a $50,000 reward for information that leads to Hood's arrest will draw out the tip that really matters.

"I believe $50,000 is a good incentive for someone to come forward and offer up Jamie Hood for arrest," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said during a news conference Wednesday at Athens-Clarke police headquarters.

Crime Stoppers first offered a $5,000 reward, then doubled it Wednesday morning, and soon after the FBI added $40,000.

Keenan called Hood "a very, very dangerous individual who must be arrested and taken off the streets."

Authorities commissioned the GBI's sketch artist to draw Hood - who normally shaves his face and head - as he would look after two days without grooming. They also released images from Hood's Facebook page, photos that show the tattoos on his arms and chest.

The events that led up to the shootings began early Tuesday afternoon, when Hood lured another man to his parents' home on Ranick Road, off Spring Valley Road, because Hood "wanted to show him something," police said.

Hood led the man into a room, where Hood and four masked men pulled guns, tied the man's hands and placed him in the trunk of a car, telling him he'd die if he didn't get them money, police said.

View more photos of the manhunt, Tuesday's crime scene, today's developments and photos of the alleged killer.

The men drove off in two cars, one with the hostage in the trunk, and when they stopped for a red light at Winterville and Lexington roads, the man popped the trunk and escaped, according to police.

When the call went out to officers on patrol, Senior Police Officer Tony Howard headed toward an apartment complex on Sycamore Drive where police thought Hood might live. On the way, he spotted an SUV driven by one of Hood's relatives, police said.

The officer stopped the SUV at the entrance to the Cascades on the River apartment complex, where Hood got out and shot Howard as he tried to exit his patrol car, police said.

A second officer took the driver - Hood's brother, Matthew Robert Hood - into custody, and when Christian stopped to assist, Hood shot him twice through his patrol car's window, police said.

Hood then shot Howard a second time and fled, carjacking a woman on Epps Bridge Road near Windy Hill Court, police said; he then led police on a chase on the Athens Perimeter and through East Athens neighborhoods, where he managed to lose them.

Officers found the car about 5:15 p.m., abandoned across town on Airport Drive off Winterville Road, not far from where Hood's parents live.

Lumpkin and Keenan led a strategy meeting early Wednesday to coordinate "arrest teams" made up of 150 officers from 20 agencies, the GBI director said.

"We continue to have multiple teams in the field," mostly concentrating searches in Clarke County, Lumpkin said.

One credible tip came early Wednesday, when a postal worker who is familiar with Hood reported she saw him sitting on a picnic table in a yard on Murrell Road, off Spring Valley and near Hood's parents' home.

Officers searched the area with a tracking dog, police said.

Investigators tracked down a tip that Hood was sending text messages to a relative, stating he wanted to come home, police said. They also searched for a nephew who reportedly was bringing money to Hood so he could leave the area.

Lumpkin choked up and excused himself from the press conference after he told reporters how he'd met with Christian's family and that they were faring "remarkably well."

Christian, 34, was married with a 2-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

But Lumpkin brought good news about Howard, who underwent successful surgery for gunshots to the face and shoulder.

The 43-year-old officer - who also is married and has four sons, ages 11 to 20 - woke up Wednesday morning and immediately wanted to assist in the investigation.

"He asked, 'Have we captured the perpetrator?' " Lumpkin said.

"He woke up policing," Lumpkin said. "He started telling us who and where we should check" for the man who shot him and killed Christian.

Anyone with information on Hood's whereabouts should call police at (706) 546-5900, or Crime Stopper's confidential tip line at (706) 613-3342.

 

More

Pipeline hearing set for Thursday in Evans

The committee to evaluate petroleum pipelines in Georgia will hold a public hearing in Columbia County on Thursday.

The hearing at 10 a.m.... Read more

Cooler weather predicted for weekend

The week started with record highs, but an approaching cool front will bring more seasonal temperatures for the weekend.

On Monday the high... Read more

Jacksonville Suns changing name to Jumbo Shrimp

The long-standing tradition of the Suns' minor-league baseball team in Jacksonville, which dates to 1962, will undergo a major transformation next... Read more