History of violence with Athens cop killer suspect

ATHENS, Ga. -- He racked the slide of a semiautomatic pistol, stuck it to the head of a pizza deliveryman and told the frightened college student he was going to kill him.

 

The driver handed over $3 - claiming it's all he had while pleading for his life - but Jamie Hood continued to demand more until a police car happened to cruise by and scared him off.

That encounter in the parking lot of an Eastside apartment complex 14 years ago is documented in trial transcripts, seeming to portend the ruthless way in which authorities say Hood gunned down two Athens-Clarke police officers last month, killing one of them.

"He assassinated Senior Police Officer Buddy Christian and attempted to assassinate Senior Police Officer Tony Howard," police Chief Jack Lumpkin said.

Hood was only 19 when he robbed the pizza deliveryman, and before then he had no record of convictions in Clarke County Superior Court; a prosecutor said Hood didn't have a criminal history as a juvenile, either.

But with his conviction for the 1997 robbery at Waterford Place Apartments off Oconee Street, it seems clear that Hood had chosen a path that eventually would cross with those of the officers police say he shot March 22.

Back in 1997, police were hunting for a pair of men who committed several robberies and had been dubbed "Mutt and Jeff" because one was much taller than the other, like the old-time cartoon characters.

Hood's height is average, but the suspected getaway driver was 6 feet, 3 inches tall.

An Athens-Clarke police detective questioned Hood about the Mutt and Jeff robberies, but investigators never linked him to other crimes.

Hood had gotten into trouble before and had a short fuse, according to the man who coached him in football for a short time.

Hood was kicked off the Cedar Shoals High School Jaguars football team in his freshman year because of fighting and bad grades, according to John Osborne, who coached Hood at the time.

"Jamie was a very high-strung young man, and authority was sometimes tough for him to deal with," said Osborne, now principal of White County High School. "It wouldn't take much for a good hit on the (football) field or a strong tackle to become an altercation with Jamie."

Hood never graduated and he was working toward his GED at the time of his arrest in 1997.

Former schoolmates recalled how Hood mostly kept to himself or stuck with his six brothers, and wasn't as close to a half-brother.

That half-brother went on to graduate from college, while the others each were arrested several times over the years for crimes ranging from selling drugs to theft and aggravated assault.

"You knew they were going to be rough boys from their upbringing," said a relative who didn't want to be identified.

"Jamie's someone you never want to cross," the relative said. "Him and his brothers are very loyal to each other, and if you do something to one of them, it's like you did it to all of them."

Timothy Hood, a year younger than Jamie, was shot and killed by an Athens-Clarke police officer in 2001. He placed a gun to the officer's head, but the officer was able to grab it and shoot Timothy Hood with his own gun, according to police.

Jamie Hood had been behind bars for four years when his younger brother was killed.

According to police reports, Hood sported a single tattoo on his arm at the time, but by the time he was released from prison in July 2009 he was muscular and covered with prison tattoos.

Authorities won't say if they know why Hood shot the officers last month, though some officers have speculated that Hood harbored a hatred for police because of his brother's death, and it only simmered while he was prison. Other officers think it was more likely that Hood shot the officers because he didn't want to go back to prison.

He also was a suspect in the murder of a county employee in December, police said, and Hood might have thought he'd be charged with the crime if the officers arrested him.

A Greene County deputy had a run-in with Hood five months ago, and after the officers were shot in Athens he looked back on the confrontation and counted his blessings.

Sheriff's Sgt. Robby McCannon was patrolling Georgia Highway 15 when a Cadillac raced by in the other direction, traveling at 96 mph, so the deputy turned around and chased after.

But the Cadillac reached speeds of more than 110 mph, and the driver - later identified as Hood - began to lose control around curves as the road neared the Oconee County line, so he apparently stopped rather than risk crashing, according to McCannon.

Hood got out of his car, "squared off" and stared at him inside his patrol car, McCannon said.

"There we were, in a rural area with back-up at least 20 minutes away, and I was unsure what his intentions might be," McCannon said.

The deputy ordered Hood to the ground, "but he took off running into the woods and I lost sight of him," McCannon said.

The deputy identified Hood from documents and photographs in the Cadillac. The next day, Hood's mother reported her son's car had been stolen in Greene County, and a deputy told her it had been recovered and Hood could come by and pick it up.

When he did, Hood was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road.

That day the Greene County deputy stopped him, Hood had no warrants for his arrest, his car was legal and there was no contraband inside, leaving McCannon to wonder if Hood considered fighting before he decided to run.

"No traffic stop is ever routine, and as far as (Hood's) actions - exiting his car without me telling him to then squaring off on me, there could have been a serious confrontation," McCannon said. "Thank God he didn't do that."

On March 22, Hood did choose to fight instead of flee, police said.

That morning, he lured a man to his family's home off Spring Valley Road because he wanted "to show him something," police said. But when 31-year-old Judon Brooks arrived, Hood took him into a back room where four masked gunmen - one armed with a shotgun - tied his feet and hands, demanded the addresses of people that Brooks knew and threatened to kill him if he didn't give them money.

Investigators think the interrogation and demand for money was drug-related, and also because Brooks is a witness in the investigation of a December murder on the Westside in which Hood is a suspect.

The men threw Brooks into the trunk of Hood's Cadillac and planned to take him somewhere, but the man managed to pop the trunk and escape. He called 911 and identified Hood as the man who kidnapped him, and police issued a lookout for the suspect.

Soon after, SPO Howard stopped an SUV on Sycamore Drive because he recognized the driver as one of Hood's brothers. Jamie Hood jumped out of the passenger door and shot Howard in the face and shoulder before the officer was able to climb out of his car.

As Hood began to run away, Christian arrived, police said. Hood shot his gun through the patrol car's window, killing the officer, according to police.

Hood eluded a massive four-day manhunt that ended when he took several people hostage in a home in North Athens, then negotiated his surrender with authorities on condition it be done on live television as insurance he wouldn't be harmed.

As the news camera rolled, the 33-year-old suspect admitted to killing Christian, and also spoke of his own fear of death.

"I regret killing that officer. That innocent officer didn't deserve that," Hood said.

"(Police) killed my brother; they were gonna kill me," he said. "I did stuff wrong. That's their job if you did something wrong, you know."

 

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